Pickens fire crews had to deal with a rapidly spreading flame that reached vehicles and outbuildings Sunday night.
Pickens County Fire Department / Photo
Pickens fire crews responded to blazes at two mobile homes in the past week with one resulting in a near-total loss, while the other was contained to one room.
Sunday at 2:55 a.m. the home of Tommy and Cindy Clark on Beaver Ridge Road caught fire in “a fast-moving fire that progressed rapidly,” according to Assistant Fire Chief Curtis Clark.
The owners were not home, but members of their family were, and if it had not been for smoke detectors, the fire could have resulted in fatalities, Clark said.
“There was heavy smoke,” he said. “They had to literally crawl out the back door.”
If the smoke detector had not alarmed, they could have been cut off from an exit, Clark said.
Clark has ruled the cause of the fire electrical. It involved the main electrical panel, he said.
Aside from its rapid progression, the fire was a challenge, Clark said, due to “multiple exposures” – four vehicles, a boat, a utility trailer and a garage all near the home.
Clark said fire crews from volunteer departments at Bethany-Salem, Tate, Yellow Creek and Hinton along with paid county crews were able to save the garage, but the double-wide mobile home with further additions was a complete loss. The vehicles and boat were also damaged, he said. “You try to get as much help as you can with so many exposures and a fire that big,” he said.
“It was an interesting challenge to have that many vehicles involved,” Clark said. He said he initially thought it might have been one of the vehicles that caused the flames but then determined it was the electrical source.
Clark said crews did all they could, but this fire “just had a good headstart; it was well-developed prior to our arrival.”
The second fire (last Thursday) was at a rental home owned by Dorothy Watson and rented by the Kirby family on Collins Road.
Here, Clark said the fire cause originated from a bed, an indication it was some type of accidental fire as “there was zero heat source” in that area.
Clark said the mother and three children at the rented residence were home at about 7 p.m. The mother first tried to put the fire out herself, an effort that included dragging the mattress outside.
Unsuccessful, she had to call 911, according to reports. Clark said law enforcement agents were first to arrive. They slowed the flames with fire extinguishers until fire crews arrived and stopped the fire in one room. Clark said the mobile home is repairable, the only loss being some contents of the room that burned.
“This home had no working smoke detectors,” Clark said. “There were two there, but neither were working (one had missing batteries, the other was taken down). This is a common situation in a rental unit.”
He said it was fortunate the fire occurred in the early evening hours before anyone went to sleep, since there would have been no smoke detector warning.
Clark said if the larger, faster fire had occurred in the home without smoke detectors, “We would have had fatalities. Of that I’m convinced. Smoke detectors are so important.”
Local Red Cross director Andy Thompson said they are working with both families. The Red Cross assists families that experience a fire or other disaster, providing funds for food, shelter and clothing. If you would like to help fund the work of the local Red Cross, please mail a check to Red Cross 1266 East Church St. Suite 154 Jasper, Ga. 30143.