Historic home catches fire in Lakebottom - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Historic home catches fire in Lakebottom

The home was built in 1832. Its name changed to St. Elmo in 1868. The home was built in 1832. Its name changed to St. Elmo in 1868.

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – A historic Columbus home caught fire Wednesday afternoon in the Lakebottom area.

The St. Elmo house in the Lakebottom area in Columbus is on the National Register of Historic Places and survived the Civil War.  However, after the fire, the home has extensive damage inside.

Philip Schley, a former Muscogee County School Board Chairman, and his wife have lived in the historic house since the 1960s.  The 79-year-old man was determined to not let the blaze take his home.

"I tried to get a hose into it, but before I could do anything it had spread rapidly," said Schley.

Schley says he was home alone in the basement when he realized a candle had started a fire in the wine cellar. 

Battalion Chief Bryan Watson with Columbus Fire and EMS says the fire moved from the basement to the two other floors of the home.  Watson explains there was extensive damage to the basement.  The two upper floors have moderate damage mainly from smoke. 

"The guys did a very good job of making it stop, and actually saving the structure and probably 90% of the contents above the basement are," said Watson.

Schley's not the only person grateful his home is still standing.  Some people around Columbus and the country think this house is priceless. 

It was built by a U.S. Representative around the 1830s.  About 3 decades later, it was named St. Elmo.  The historic house was a place of entertainment for multiple U.S. Presidents and political figures.  However, to Schley it is his home and just needs to be fixed.

"The ole' girl is standing and we could have lost her.  So, I'm pleased about that.  And, the things that we have lost are just that: they're things," said Schley.

Watson says about it took about 30 firefighters less than an hour to stop the blaze.

Fire Chief Ricky Shores says the fire is under investigation. He tells News Leader 9 that it is an accidental fire and no foul play is suspected. 

Copyright 2011 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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