Second area house fire Tuesday sends resident to Tyler hospital

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

July 11, 2007 - A 63-year-old Sulphur Springs woman was hospitalized for smoke inhalation after being rescued from her Beckham Street residence Tuesday evening.

Staff Photo by Angela PItts

(Left to right) Cumby firefighter Joseph Evans and Miller Grove firefighter Roger Clark wait for Steve Caudle to rev up a chainsaw Tuesday afternoon to ventilate the roof of house that was on fire on FM 275.

The fire was reported at 4:14 p.m. at 306 East Beckham Street. When Sulphur Springs firefighters arrived at 4:19 p.m. with two engines they observed heavy smoke in the kitchen area of the single story brick home. Someone reported that the resident of the house was still inside. Sulphur Springs firemen sent one crew to extinguish the blaze and another to search for the woman.

They found Jo Ann Kelly in the bathroom, where she had apparently gone to escape the fire, as there is no rear exit to the house. Firefighters Scott Isham, Mackey Maxwell and Allen Johnson pulled Kelly from the structure.

One firefighter said Tuesday evening that Kelly was unconscious but breathing when she was taken by ambulance to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital. She was treated for smoke inhalation and transferred Tuesday night to Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler. She was still in the hospital there Wednesday morning, according to firefighters.

Meanwhile firefighters continued to fight the blaze and called in two off-duty personnel and an investigator to assist them. Hopkins County firefighters at the scene were also asked by city firefighters help with salvage and overhaul.

The Sulphur Springs firemen were said to have quickly extinguished the blaze, containing the fire to the kitchen area, but the rest of the house was heavily smoke damaged.

"They made a real good stop and contained the fire damage to the kitchen area," Sulphur Springs Fire Investigator David James said Wednesday morning. "They got the fire knocked down quick."

The fire investigator was slated to return to the home Wednesday to continue investigating the cause of the fire which started in the kitchen area. When the firefighters cleared the scene about 5:15 p.m., they had found "nothing that looked suspicious at this point."

It was the second house fire Hopkins County firefighters battled Tuesday. During the noon hour, they were dispatched to 967 FM 275 north along with Cumby, Miller Grove and Arbala firefighters.

Heavy smoke was showing throughout the structure when they arrived. A call for assistance was made to Commerce Fire Department, due to limited manpower and the high humidity, in which "firefighters couldn't last too long." 

The firefighters made an interior attack through the front door and were able to contain the blaze to the northwest utility room where the fire started. The resident reportedly had moved some things around in the utility room and apparently accidentally turned on a thermostat on a space heater mounted on the waall. It was located above a stack of quilts, which ignited, Hopkins County Fire Investigator Steve Caudle said following his inspection of the scene.

Although contained to the unity room, the fire had spread into the attic. Firefighters went onto the roof to reach the attic to "get ahead" of the fire. They were able to put out the flames within a relatively short time. 

"They did one heck of a good job knocking it down and stopping it," Caudle said.

Aside from the fire damage in the utility room and attic, the rest of the house sustained only moderate smoke damage.

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