Martin D. Miller sipped a beer yesterday and walked around his yard, shaking his head and staring at the burned out structure at 1504 Cerritos Ct., Vienna, that had been his family's home for four years.
"At least my garden wasn't ruined," said Miller, a budget analyst for the Federal Aviation Administration who had been spending the week with his wife Linda and their two young daughters in Nags Head, N.C.
Miller and his wife cut their vacation short yesterday and drove back to Vienna after learning that their home and its contents, valued by Fairfax County fire authorities at $125,000, had been destroyed by an early morning fire of undetermined origin. The five marshal's office is investigating the cause of the blaze.
Miller said he learned of the fire about 9:30 a.m. when a deputy sheriff arrived at the cottage the Millers were renting and told Miller to call a neighbor, who also works at the FAA.
"My first thought was that somebody had died. So I was relieved to learn it was just the house," Miller said.
As friends and neighbors dropped by to survey the damage and offer sympathy, Linda Miller said, "My first reaction was that I just couldn't believe it could be me. These are things you read about," she turned to her husband and said, "I'm really glad the children aren't here."
Her daughters, age 7 and 12, remained in Nags Head with friends she said.
According to Linda Miller, the only salvageable possessions were the garage contents, which included a file cabinet that contained some valuables.
"All the way up we kept thinking of what we had to do," she said slowly. "We'll probably check into a motel tonight and then we have to get hold of our insurance man and see where we go from there."