HILTONS, Va. – Rita Forrester woke up in the middle of the night and found her living room engulfed in flames.
She did not know what time it was nor did she know what caused the fire, only that she and her husband, Bob, had had some problems with the gas logs in their fireplace.
Forrester, the director of the Carter Family Fold, lost nearly everything: clothes, furniture, her cat … and her husband.
Bob Forrester, 61, did not make it out alive, and Forrester did not have the strength, she said, to watch his body carried out by rescue officials.
Three volunteer fire departments stationed in and around Scott County, Va., responded to the fatal house fire early Sunday at the Forrester home, just off A.P.
Carter Highway, said Dale Saunders, of the Hiltons, Va., Volunteer Fire Department.
The body was sent to Roanoke for an autopsy, Saunders said. “No foul play is suspected at this time. But the home was a total loss.”
Now, Forrester said, “There’s one brick wall left standing.”
Built in 1997, the Forresters’ home stood next door to the home of the late Janette Carter, Rita Forrester’s mother and the founder of the Carter Fold. Both houses are within sight of the Carter Fold, a music venue where Saturday night shows have been staged since 1976.
Still, no show had been held at the Carter Fold on Saturday night, due to a call for wintry weather.
The Forresters had met while Rita was a college student in the 1970s at East Tennessee State University. The pair married on June 4, 1978, and had their first baby, Justin, in 1981, and second son, Tyler, a few years later.
Rita Forrester, for years, has overseen daily operations at the Carter Fold, especially since the Carter Fold was named in 2004 an integral part of The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Shows at the venue honor The Carter Family, a pioneering musical act known for songs like “Wildwood Flower” and “Keep On the Sunny Side.”
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