An unusual residential fire kicked things off for the month of September as units were summoned to the Hampton Ridge apartment complex at 11501 Harts Road around noon on Thursday, 1 September. Firefighters discovered a single story apartment with flames visibly leaping through a front window, with heat so intense as to melt the exterior vinyl siding from the building. The routine supression efforts soon had the fire under control, in actuality in less than 15 minutes, but the investigation into the cause soon revealed a most curious and befuddling circumstance. The renter of the charred apartment had seen a light fixture fall into a pile of clothes on the floor earlier in the morning, with smoke rising to the ceiling from that flammable mound. Maintenance personnel were promptly notified and the renter left for work believing the situation under control. Alas, the maintenance crew decided to deploy a fan to disperse of the smoke that had built up in the room, in the process delivering the needed oxygen that would ultimately lead to the full blown conflagration. The incident was certainly no laughing matter, as damage estimates exceeded $70,000 and the Red Cross was required to provide assistance for 5 displaced individuals.
Two extremely similar structure fires occurred in succession on Monday, September 12, and the following day Tuesday, September 13. Although in two completely different locations in our city (one in East Arlington and the other in deep Mandarin), the other uncanny similarities did result in a 'deja vu' moment for those familiar with the details of each event. More specifically, each incident involved a single family home, each fire was responded to around the noon hour of each day, in each instance the cause proved to be electrical, each emergency response had no injuries to report and last, but not least, at each location the Incident Commander happened to be the same District Chief (a mere quirk of scheduling). At the first response location, 12115 Pemberton, a vinyl-sided manufactured home undergoing renovations was fully involved when crews arrived. After nearly twenty minuntes of intense suppression work, including a very focused task of protecting several nearby exposures, the fire was called under control with the subsequent investigation revealing a significant electrical problem, faulty wiring, as the reason for the blaze. In Mandarin, the very next day, the fire originated under the floorboards of the house following a malfunction with the residence's generator. The aforementioned had been kicked on following a brief power outage, with that action resulting in a short and fire running the length of wiring located underneath the floor. In both cases of these two house fires, damage estimates were tens of thousands of dollars: yet another similarity.
So far this month, the most newsworthy emergency response has been the incident at the 'Columns' apartment complex located on Laurina Street. Here, on the 15th of September at 2 AM, firefighters discovered 5 vehicles on fire, to varying levels of intensity, along with the common entranceways to two areas within apartment building 'I,' itself home to a total of eight individual units. Although the fires proved to be no challenge whatsoever to the responders, with everything ablaze called under control in less than 10 minutes, the multiple sets did represent a major calamity for some of the individuals diectly involved. Some families were displaced from their respective homes due to the damages evident in the aftermath, some saw their vehicle completely destroyed by the fire. In any case, a clear case of arson resulting in the immediate mobilization of the Arson Task Force.
Wednesday afternoon, September 28, units responding to the report of a residential structure fire in the ten thousand block of Indian Walk Road discovered upon arrival smoke seeping out from vents and beneath the eaves of a single story, wood-sided house. As the crews from Engines 51 and 42 prepared for action, a young male approached the firefighters and exclaimed, "I think my friend's brother is still in the house." Alarmed by this revelation, firefighters promptly forced entry into the home, where upon entry, they encountered thick smoke engulfing the interior. Within seconds two discoveries were made; the first, visible flame from the kitchen area and the second, an unconscious male juvenile on the floor. While the fire was being extinguished, the victim was quickly removed from the deleterious environment, placed on a stretcher and moved into Rescue 42, then transported to Baptist Hospital downtown in critical condition. The family dog, a Great Dane, was also found in a back area of the house and, with the assistance of a pet mask, gradually brought out of a state of distress so that a neighbor could transport the animal to a nearby veterinarian. With the fire out in less than ten minutes, damages were limited to the home's interior and listed at approximately $30,000. The good news came a short while later, as everyone on scene learned that the young boy's condition had dramatically improved at the hospital. The cause of the fire was attributed to a faulty toaster located on the kitchen counter, with deep black and heavy charring visible in the vicinity of the electrical outlet.