Fire of unknown origin early Wednesday destroyed most of a landmark Gilmer home occupied by a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, and heavily damaged an adjoining apartment from which another woman escaped, said Upshur County Fire Marshal Paul Steelman.
The blaze at 219 E. Butler St., reported to the Gilmer Fire Department about 12:30 a.m., destroyed the part of the frame home occupied by Stephanie Rash, while the apartment occupant, Cassie Gillaspy, fled through a back door unharmed, Steelman said.
Tina Meisenheimer owned the structure, he said.
Ms. Rash, a Cowboys cheerleader for one season several years ago, was not home when the fire occurred, Steelman said.
He said Thursday foul play is not suspected in the blaze, and that his investigation into its cause is expected to take several days.
Steelman quoted Ms. Gillaspy as saying she awoke for some unknown reason and “saw a bright glow from her room.” She then discovered that the house, separated from her apartment by a patio, was aflame, Steelman said.
Ms. Gillaspy called the fire deparment on her cell phone and alerted neighbors living nearby of the fire, Steelman said.
Nobody was injured in the fire, which firefighters battled for probably at least three hours, Steelman said Wednesday. However, none of the home’s contents were saved “that I’m aware of,” he added.
The central Gilmer residence at the intersection of Butler and Trinity Streets was once the home of Henry Lee Davis, a well-known grocer in the city for more than 60 years who worked until a few weeks before his death on April 28, 1991—his 95th birthday.
The house was later converted into a bed-and-breakfast for a time.
Diana resident Joe Blount, an 87-year-old retired football coach who grew up in Gilmer, said Wednesday, “As far as my remembrance, that house has been there all my life.”
Donations sought for fire victims
Donations are needed for the seven victims who lost everything in a fire Wednesday in Gilmer.
Both Cassie Gillaspy and her two children and Stephanie Rash and her three children were tenants of the duplex at 219 W. Butler St. (corner of Butler and Harrison St.).
There have been separate accounts opened at Austin Bank for the Gillaspy and Rash families.
All financial donations can be given in their individual names at any Austin Bank location.
For Ms. Gillaspy’s non-financial donation of clothes, furniture or other items, a drop-off site has been set up at her place of employment, Kinsman Home Health Care, at 100 Buffalo St. on the north side of the square, or contact her at 903-918-8249.
Cassie Gillaspy’s family’s sizes:
• Boy, age 5, children’s size 5 clothes and children’s size 12 shoe;
• Girl, age 6, children’s size 6 clothes and children’s size 12 shoe;
• Adult (Cassie), size 5/7 clothes and adult woman’s size 10 shoe.
For Stephanie Rash’s non-financial donations of clothes or furniture, contact Melinda at 903-797-6000.
Stephanie Rash’s family sizes:
• Girl, children’s size 6/7 clothes and children’s size 11 shoe;
• Boy, children’s size 7/8 clothes and kids size 1 shoe;
• Girl, children’s size 16 or Jr. size 3 clothes and adult size 6 ½ shoe;
• Adult (Stephanie): size 4/6 clothes, and adult woman’s size 6 shoe.