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Home News-Telegram News Firefighters battle weekend blazes at Helm Lane and VFW

Firefighters battle weekend blazes at Helm Lane and VFW

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Firefighters responded to two structure fires and a vehicle fire within 12 hours over the weekend. Twelve units at a local apartment complex sustained smoke damage and the kitchen of one apartment burned. The bar area at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8560 sustained serious fire damage.

The first fire was reported at 7:11 p.m. Saturday to Sulphur Springs firefighters as a kitchen fire at the Helm Lane apartment complex. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the unit where the fire started. However, about a dozen apartments were smoke damaged as a result of the fire. Crews remained on scene until 8:50 p.m. Saturday making sure the fire was out and the units ventilated.

No one was injured, and two dogs were rescued from the structure. The local branch of the American Red Cross was called and were assisting the family of the burned apartment with housing and other immediate needs until more permanent arrangements can be made. The other apartments were aired out and the residents allowed back inside, according to firefighters. Hopkins County firefighters were contacted at 8:33 p.m. to bring a CO2 monitor to assist city firemen at the blaze on Helm Lane.

Sulphur Springs firefighters were dispatched at 2:55 a.m. Sunday to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post. Police were first contacted to go to the location after dispatchers were notified a burglar alarm on the main doorway had sounded. Police notified firefighters of a blaze and called for a tow truck to move the vehicle from in front of the building, saving the vehicle and eliminating a hazard for firefighters.

When Sulphur Springs firemen arrived at 3:04 a.m. they noted heavy fire flaming out the front door of the structure on the far side of the property. They called at 3:08 p.m. Sunday for Hopkins

County firefighters to assist at the scene. Off-dutypersonnel from both departments were called in to assist. North Hopkins and Cumby Volunteer Fire Departments were called in to stage at the county fire station, Cumby to cover any additional calls SSFD might have during the blaze and North Hopkins to cover an additional county calls. The local branch of the American Red Cross was contacted for rehabilitation services such as cool drinks to keep the firefighters hydrated.

Firemen were soon notified of the possibility of a night janitor sleeping in the building. As soon as they were able firefighters entered the structure and began searching for the unaccounted for man. Police meanwhile directed traffic away from the location and one unit went to the janitor’s home and were confirmed that he had returned safely.

While the blaze was officially under control by 5:45 a.m. Sunday, crews remained on scene another three hours ensuring the blaze was out. The fire was contained to the bar area of the main VFW building, although the room next to it where meetings were held and Women’s Auxiliary building behind it where bingo is generally played did sustain some smoke damage.

“They held the fire to the center part of the structure, the bar area. They got a good jump on it, made a real good knockdown. The fire started in the bathroom area, in the area of the fixtures in the bathroom ceiling,” said Sulphur Springs Fire Investigator David James, who noted that while the fire was under control a while before they cleared completely, extinguishing took longer because “there were quite a few voids” that were harder to reach.

James said further investigation showed a flip switch for the exhaust fan to be in the “on” position. Tracking the origin, the fire also appeared to have  originated in the fan, likely overheating or shorting out.

While the VFW building was seriously damaged firefighters, aware of the importance of items inside to the members and community, had a team assigned to rescue as many valuables, keepsakes and memorabilia as possibly. Numerous plaques awards and other items were saved. Members told firefighters that they will utilize the Women’s Auxiliary building for VFW functions and meetings until the other structure can be repaired or a new one constructed. The structure is insured, and an insurance investigator is expected to tour the damaged area later in the week to make an assessment.

Sulphur Springs firefighters also responded Sunday from 6:52 p.m. to 7:17 p.m. to a vehicle fire on the corner of Jonas and Live Oak streets. All occupants were able to escape unharmed, according to reports. City firemen later Sunday also conducted a smoke investigation from 8:50 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the 200 block of Parkins Street and had earlier Saturday, from 6:52 p.m. to 8:39 p.m. also responded to a report of unauthorized burning.

 

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