History - Buffaloe House

Lessons of History

By Steve Stone


    On Saturday, March 20th, 2010 a fire burned through the historic home from which Buffaloe Road got its name.  There were 75 firefighters on the scene, 4 engines, 2 rescue trucks, and a ladder truck.  The house burned to the ground as Joan Buffaloe Edwards and her, daughter Charlotte Hicks watched.

    The house was at the corner of New Hope and Buffaloe roads.  It was once a foster home when Fanny Buffaloe used it to care for nearly 50 homeless children in the 1970s. 

"My grandma was the mother of the year for the Baptist Childrens Homes of North Carolina , Inc. in the year of 1968. It was in the N & O. I haven't been able to find the write up". - Joan Edwards

    The loss of another piece of history is always tragic, but in this case it was actually helpful as well.  The house was burned on purpose.  The condemned building was considered an eyesore by the city of Raleigh.  It was unsafe and the owners could not afford to maintain it any longer.  

    Rather than pay a huge fine, and pay a demolition company to remove it, Edwards spoke with the Wake County Fire Department.  The department agreed to do a controlled burn as a training exercise for their firefighters.  Over a dozen instructors trained nearly 60 officers in the live burn training.  Nine departments, including Rolesville, participated.

    Even though this was only training, two men were hurt. One firefighter from Wake Forest suffered smoke inhalation, and one from Rolesville was overcome by the heat.  Fire fighters often have to stay in rooms so hot, their helmets literally melt.  The protective gear keeps out much of the 1500 degree heat, but nothing stops it all.  The rooms are 5 times hotter than an oven.

    Why would firefighters want to do go into a place like that? Graham Pearce is fourth generation firefighter, his uncle Chad was there as a trainer. When asked, Chad said, “When it’s in your family, it’s in your blood.” Several of the firefighters were second or third generation. Olive Massy of the ladies auxiliary told of her family, 4 of whom are also in the department.

    With families of firefighters working together, to save our own from tragedies, it is a matter of family history protecting local history.


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