Sunday fire in Brinker blamed on electrical short
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Hopkins County Fire Investigator Steve Caudle determined the cause of the blaze which destroyed Larry and Jill Jenkins' home Sunday was an electrical short.
Staff Photo By Faith Huffman

Sept. 28, 2006 - An electrical malfunction has been ruled as the cause of the fire which gutted an  FM 69 residence in Brinker Sunday afternoon.

"I have determined the origin was a malfunction and electric short in a junction box in the hallway," Hopkins County Fire Investigator Steve Caudle said Tuesday evening of the blaze that consumed the home of Larry and Jill Jenkins. "The wiring throughout the house was the old code, not up to new code, which essentially means it had no grounded system of wiring like the new updated type of wiring."

The wiring in the electric junction box shorted out, which caught the rafters and the ceiling tile on fire, according to Caudle. The ceiling, like many homes constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, was made with acoustic-type ceiling tiles which are highly combustible.

The extreme heat which forced firefighters to back out of the flaming structure three times during Sunday's fire fight was intensified by the tiles and the walls, which were all wood paneling and quickly ignited and spread. The walls contained no drywall to act as a fire barrier and contain the fire to compartments like newer buildings have. It also helped to mask the fire's cause, which Caudle was finally able to determine after much digging and two days' worth of investigation.

Caudle's findings were seconded by the Jenkins' insurance evaluators.

Brinker firefighters Monday helped locate utility poles and other donated equipment, which was used to establish temporary electric service at the site. The family connected it to a travel trailer loaned to them Monday by a family friend for use until the destroyed structure can be torn down and the family can rebuild on the site.

Hopkins County Salvation Army assisted the family by putting them in a motel and helping them obtain immediate necessities Sunday night, and began accepting donations of clothing, furniture and house goods for the Jenkins at HCSA headquarters, located inside the Bait Shop at 1702 South Broadway St. in Sulphur Springs, or reachable by calling HCSA Chairman Jo Marie Neal at 903-885-9858 or her cell phone, 903-335-1032.

The Jenkins Fund was also established at City National Bank, where monetary donations may be made to assist Larry and Jill Jenkins.

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