Mike Runnels is a retired fire captain for Fairfax County. He's seen plenty of fires.
But he's never seen one that moved as quickly as the one that destroyed his own home.
Runnels and his wife, Donna, are reeling in the aftermath of a devastating fire that consumed their home in Loudoun County on Sunday.
The fire erupted when Runnels was home by himself. He was checking out his RV, as he does every couple of days.
Runnels went back inside when he heard "what sounded like a big explosion or a very large tree hitting the ground." The RV had erupted into flames.
Runnels called 911 and tried to get the RV away from the house, but the fire moved fast. The house was already catching fire.
He knew no one else was in the house, so he began trying to save his classic car collection and mementos from his career.
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He got some of them out, but not all.
"I pushed the limits probably past what I should have," Runnels said. "But the experience did kick in eventually and told me, you've done what you can. The rest is material."
Now, the family is relying on friends and former colleagues for support. Those friends have started a fund-raising campaign to help the Runnels.
"He gave over 25 years of service to help people in need and keep them safe from fires like he and his family experienced today. It is time for us to give back," reads the link on GoFundMe. To give, click here.
Runnel says he plans to rebuild on the same property when he can.