Multiple blazes keep county firefighters busy
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Dec. 6, 2004 -- Within a 24-hour period this weekend, four homes were burned in unrelated blazes. Although one fireman was briefly trapped inside a residence Sunday morning and a disabled woman was initially thought to be trapped inside her residence Saturday morning, no injuries resulted from the blazes.

A short in a Christmas tree light was blamed for one fire and homeowners suspect a faulty flood light as the cause of a second. The cause of the other two fires was undetermined as of Monday morning, but all four are believed to be accidental, according to Hopkins County Fire Chief Carl Nix.

"It appears they were all accidental," Nix said Monday morning. "We had four pretty good fires in less than 24 hours. Dispatchers toned two fires that were about 4 minutes apart. There's nothing we've found that's suspicious about them."

Hopkins County and Cumby firefighters responded to a structure fire on SH 11 west at the intersection of FM 3134 at 10:38 a.m. Saturday, after a neighbor saw smoke coming from one corner of the house.

When Cumby firemen arrived on the scene, they attempted to make entry into a bedroom where a partially disabled woman was thought to possibly be, and began attacking the blaze. Hopkins County firefighters soon arrived and an interior search of the residence was conducted in an attempt to locate the woman, who neighbors thought but were unsure was inside.

A resident arrived to advise the woman was not inside the residence, but was supposed to be out of town with a family member Saturday morning.

Brinker firefighters also arrived with a truck to provide water support, and the blaze was knocked down, with only one side of the house burned and the remainder of the house sustained heavy smoke damage.

Then, at 12:39 p.m., just as firemen were getting ready to clear that scene, another structure fire was reported on County road 1136. Miller Grove and Arbala firefighters responded, along with Hopkins County firefighters.

Someone in the area noticed the fire and reported it to officials. Miller Grove firefighters arrived at the scene and "had the line pulled" when Arbala and Hopkins County firefighters arrived.

"We knocked the fire down from the outside then went in," Arbala VFD Capt. and Hopkins County Fire and Rescue firefighter Brian Fairchild said. "One of Arbala's firefighters performed a rescue. Michael Couch rescued a cat, the family pet. He got it out and it was put on oxygen. The paramedics helped. It was breathing when we cleared there."

Firefighters worked at the double wide trailer until 1:56 p.m. Saturday, extinguishing the blaze and ensuring it would not rekindle. A short in the lights on an artificial Christmas tree, left plugged in while the residents were away, was thought to be the cause of the fire.

The third fire was reported at about 2:10 a.m. Sunday at an RV park on State highway 154 south, two miles from FM 1567.

While Arbala, Como and Brinker firefighters were en route to that fire, dispatchers received a second call in Arbala's jurisdiction of another residential fire on State Highway 19 south.

"When we got to the fire on [SH] 154 the RV camper trailer was fully involved and the barn beside it was partially involved," Fairchild said. "The structure on the other side of it was in danger as well. We had knocked out the fire at the RV and the barn and were cooling it off when Yantis firefighters arrived. We left it with Yantis and drove to [SH] 19 south."

Although the exact cause of the SH 154 fire has not been determined but the cause was thought to be accidental.

While Arbala was working on SH 154 Sunday morning, Miller Grove firefighters went to the structure fire on State Highway 19, where homeowners said they suspected a troublesome flood light to be the cause of the fire. Brinker firefighters responded with a tanker to help provide water support.

"When we got there, there was fire coming from the roof, venting out the porch," said Miller Grove Volunteer Fire Department member David Dunn. "We started pulling lines."

Firefighters assisted a resident with a broken leg, by helping maneuver his wheel chair through the grass a safe distance from the blazing house. Firefighters attacked the fire from the attic and the garage.

Two Miller Grove firefighters had close calls, with one under a section of the porch and a second in another at the attic when those sections collapsed. Fortunately the man working in the attic was able to make his way out, while firefighters were able to help the other volunteer out of the residence through a window of the house near the section that caved in. Neither was injured, according to fire reports.

Arbala firefighters were on scene at the SH 19 fire from about 3 a.m. to 6:39 a.m. Sunday, when the other departments cleared.

"The fire was in the attic," Fairchild reported. "By the time we got there the center of the house fell in in the attic. We made an interior attack and it was knocked down. ... We called [Hopkins County's] Engine 20 in to assist. We needed air."

Hopkins County firefighters responded at about 5 a.m. Sunday, bringing replacement air pack to the scene.

"We managed to get out a lot of belongings including furniture while on the fire, so they were able to salvage some things," Fairchild said. "We were glad to see Brinker and Engine 20, and for their help out there."

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