Jefferson Street house decimated by fire this morning; no one hurt
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Sulphur Springs firefighters try to extinguish the flames at a residence which caught fire Tuesday morning on Jefferson Street. The house sustained extensive damage

Staff Photo by Faith Huffman

Nov. 21, 2006 - A Jefferson Street residence was destroyed by fire Tuesday morning, a blaze which firefighters struggled for at last three hours to extinguish.

The resident was not at home at the time of the blaze, but did return home shortly after firefighters arrived to discover the house in flames.

Richard Sutton, who lives at 441 Jefferson St., said he was having his morning coffee when he looked up to see heavy smoke and flames blazing out of the house next door. He contacted emergency dispatchers at about 6:25 a.m.

Before Sulphur Springs firefighters arrived, a member of North Hopkins Volunteer Fire Department upon hearing the dispatch and seeing the blaze on his way home from work, stopped to give responding personnel a size-up of the situation.

"We've got heavy smoke and fire showing from the back of the house, the C side," reported NHVFD member Josh Harrington, who grabbed his gear from his vehicle and aided Sulphur Springs firefighters throughout the morning in the fire fight.

Sulphur Springs firefighters, upon reaching Houston Street, reported seeing heavy black smoke, an indicator of a large fire at the one-story wood frame house. Knowing they were in for a long fight, on-duty personnel asked dispatchers to activate their call-back list, getting as many firefighters from other shifts as possible to come in.

With the exception of two who are out of town, all fire personnel from all three of the department's shifts came in to assist throughout the morning.

Firemen made an interior attack, at one point sending in two crews to battle the blaze, which was concentrated mainly in the rear and attic of the structure.

Their efforts were hampered by the tin roof, which forced them to back out of the structure more than once. They would get the fire under control and knocked down, and it would rekindle in the attic and roof shingles beneath the metal roof. Firefighters struggled until after 9 a.m. to get the roof off so that they could finally douse the blaze.

Generally, house fires are vented through a hole or removed section of the roof, which directs the travel of the flames up instead of out and across, and also give firefighters a way into the blaze to reach burning upper portions of the house. Firefighters were limited in their efforts to vent the roof due to the firmly secured tin.

Hopkins County Salvation Army arrived to provide water to keep the firefighters refreshed and from dehydrating and overheating. Hopkins County Emergency Medical Services also had an ambulance on standby at the scene for part of the morning as a precaution

The rear and attic were destroyed, with the roof on one side of the house caving in. The rest of the house was heavily smoke damaged. Once the fire was out around 11 a.m., firefighters began carrying dressers, containers with pictures and other personal items, and other furniture out of the house. Unlike many fires, the resident should be able to salvage quite a few of her personal belongings.

Chairman Jo Marie Neal said Hopkins County Salvation Army would also be assisting the lone resident of the home, who specifically requested her personal information not be released in the newspaper. HCSA has secured a hotel room for the woman, who lost a number of cats in the blaze. Should she need clothing or other personal items, HCSA will help provide those, as well.

Firefighters were still investigating the cause of the blaze, which was thought to have started in the rear of the structure.

The resident said she had left to do her morning routine after 4 a.m. and was away longer than anticipated. A stove was left on, and an electric blanket and small heater may have also been left on. Fire investigators said they won't know whether any of those sources caused or contributed to the fire until they are able to do a more thorough inspection later in the morning.

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