CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The home of Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera sustained "significant" damage from an early morning blaze spewing heavy smoke and fire two days after his team's playoff victory. No one was injured.
Early indications suggest the fire was accidental, and the damage from fire, smoke and water was kept "to a minimum, meaning a lot of their household items are safe," the Charlotte Fire Department said Monday.
"You are looking at a large house with damage to the roof and attic area," Capt. Rob Brisley, a department spokesman, said at a news conference. "Anytime you are faced with a fire and your family is displaced it is significant for the homeowner and it is significant for the family. We are just grateful that there are no injuries."
Rivera and his wife, Stephanie, were inside the home at the time of the fire along with some out-of-town family, team spokesman Charlie Dayton said.
"Everybody is OK and that's the most important thing," Dayton said.
The Panthers were not scheduled to practice Monday. Rivera is to address the media Monday as he usually does.
Brisley said the fire started about 4 a.m. at the large two-story house. He said the alarm system worked properly, alerting the family to leave and the fire department. He said it was not clear what caused the fire and it's too early to estimate the damage.
It took fire crews about an hour to extinguish the fire. Television video showed blackened windows in the attic of the 7,000-square foot home, fire officials. The family will not be able to live at the house at this time, Brisley said.
"When you at a fire like this, it is never easy to deal with a family that is being devastated," Brisley said. "But you can tell they have good support at all levels. It's a busy week for the city of Charlotte, including this family."
The Panthers play Saturday in an NFC divisional playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. The fire comes two days after the Panthers beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-16 in an NFC wild-card game, Rivera's first postseason win in his four seasons in Carolina.
Rivera told reporters at the scene he heard smoke detectors going off and that everyone was able to get out.
"The challenge with this large house was this fire had escaped to the roof area and it required more firefighters and extra hoses to contain," Brisley said. "The fire department was able to control this fire in about an hour but we have a long morning ahead of us. The primary focus will be taking care of the family and their needs along with investigating the fire."
This is the second significant off-the-field problem to hit the Panthers in less than a month.
Quarterback Cam Newton was injured in a two-vehicle accident Dec. 9 and was hospitalized overnight with two fractures in his lower back. Newton missed one game but was able to return the following week.
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