Semi-truck driver charged in crash that caused house fire - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Semi-truck driver charged in crash that caused house fire

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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -

A truck driver is now facing charges related to a Henrico fire that displaced five people, including a baby and an elderly woman.

Mike Coppedge arrived to his 86-year-old mother's home just in the nick of time Monday morning. He showed up just as a tractor-trailer driver lost control on a narrow road right next to his Holly Avenue home.

"He took that sign out. They put a new one up," he explains. "He turned and he tried to make it but the body caught the telephone pole and it just went crunch…the trailer was just crunched in."

The next thing he knew, a fire had started at the home.

"It blew and purple smoke. Things started smoking in the house….I went in the house and turned the breaker panel off and it was still buzzing and smoke started rolling in the house," Coppedge said. "I said, 'Get out quick.'"

That's when he rescued his elderly mother and children out of harm's way.

"It was an unusual circumstance that led to this particular fire," said Captain James Mellon.

Mellon says the driver hit a power pole. A line snapped and landed on a neutral line.

"The neutral then back fed into the house and while it back-fed into the house instead of going through the ground system, it back-fed through the house itself and ignited the fire at the panel," Mellon added.

Now, Coppedge's home is declared unfit to live in.

"Good thing I was here at the right time. If not, they were up there playing with the baby in the front room. I don't know what they would've done," he said.

He had no way of preventing this tragedy, but he says the least he can do is look on the bright side of things.

"I'm sure he didn't want to do it…Like I told momma, you've got to make the best out of a bad situation," Coppedge said.

His family is staying at different hotels with the help of the Red Cross. The driver involved is charged with reckless driving.

Dominion Power says 353 customers were affected by the power outage Monday for about four and a half hours. The family involved says they do have home owner's insurance.

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