Fire Damages $28 Million Tennessee Castle-Home

January 12, 2009

A luxurious castle-like home in Johnson City, Tennessee, a prominent landmark with two soaring towers and a majestic lakeside setting, has been badly burned by fierce flames, authorities said.

Assistant Fire Chief Mark Finucane said a wood-shingled roof and top loft area of Crantzdorf Estate’s main three-story complex were badly burned by an intense fire that broke out Saturday evening. The lower two floors suffered considerable water damage, he added, as about 25 firefighters took more than two hours to extinguish the blaze.

A prominent businessman, Steve Grindstaff, was not at home and it was “fortunate” that the house was empty when the fire began, said Finucane, an official with the Johnson City Fire Department.

He said one firefighter who suffered chest pains from apparent smoke inhalation was taken as a precaution to a Johnson City hospital but no serious injuries were reported.

“We’re just thankful no one was hurt,” Finucane told The Associated Press, adding he had no preliminary report on a cause and that fire marshals were on the scene early Sunday to investigate.

He said the fire began during a storm. has the nine-bedroom lakeside chateau with indoor basketball court listed for sale at $28.5 million. But Grindstaff could not be immediately reached for comment early Sunday.

The website said the home also had 10 full baths, other half baths and 20,000 square feet of living space equipped with a home theater and graced by an outdoor pool near Boone Lake, about 100 miles northeast of Knoxville.

Finucane said the initial alarm came in at 8:11 p.m. Saturday and it took about 2 and 1/2 hours for firefighters to gain control of the intense flames and then a few more hours to scour the building for any lingering hotspots.

He said the first 45 minutes of firefighting were hard and dangerous work as crews were prevented by intense heat and flame from entering the building.

“Upon arrival, there was a fire going through the roof and they positioned units so they could get the ladder truck into position to get some water onto it,” Finucane said. “It was too dangerous to go into the interior with firefighters until we got the main body of the fire knocked down.”

He said four fire engines and a ladder truck were dispatched along with a rescue crew and some other help.

He said fire damage in the roof and loft and water damage on floors down below left the building unoccupiable. He said two adjoining wings were not damaged by the fire.

He called it one of the largest homes in the Johnson City area.

“It’s a beautiful layout, a beautiful home and it’s very unfortunate they suffered a fire,” Finucane said.

Finucane added tgat Grindstaff rushed back late Saturday as firefighters fought the blaze and that work had already begun early Sunday to salvage furnishings from the homes.

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