Fire sends family to motel paid by church

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Lewisburg couple and their two children were living in a motel Thursday because their Lincoln Heights home caught fire just before midnight forcing them to the street in subfreezing temperatures.

"They didn't lose their home," Fire Chief Larry Williams said. "They had to be moved somewhere else while their home is repaired. They'll have to have some roof framing and rafters replaced, and some wiring replaced.

"I asked them if they had a place to stay and they said their church was putting them up in a motel," Williams said. "If everything goes well for them, they should be able to get back in their home before February, or sooner."

Firefighters were dispatched at 11:55 p.m. Wednesday to the one story brick house at 665 Glenn Ave. where Carmen Johnson is the head of the household with his wife and their two children, the fire chief said.

Four minutes later, trucks and men were on the scene and the crew confirmed the fire was in the attic, he said. The parents and children were found safe outside.

"They had a problem with their central unit, so he installed a wood heater in their finished garage," Williams said. "They had their first fire in it (Wednesday.)"

"The fire started in the attic where their flue pipe goes through the roof decking," he continued. "I don't know that it was improper installation or a malfunction or whether the pipe got too hot, but it had come loose.

"The roof is there, but the pipe isn't anymore. It burned approximately 500 square feet of attic space.

"As far as the living quarters of the home, that is salvageable," he said.

The fire department responded with three fire trucks and 22 men.

"With us were Lewisburg Police Department, Marshall County Emergency Medical Service, Lewisburg Gas and Electric departments," Williams said. "The electric department had to remove the meter.

"The street department was called out because of water freezing on Glenn Avenue. The water was coming from our hoses. We had the street department come out and put salt on the street."

Williams didn't know what the temperature was "but the water was freezing pretty quick," he said. Firefighters were back at the fire hall available for another call at 1:15 a.m.

The fire didn't injure anybody physically, but Williams took the opportunity to offer advice on fire safety during the winter.

"If you are going to be burning wood this year, and haven't in the past, you should get a professional to check it out and clean it," he said of wood heaters.

"If you're using any type of electric space heaters, read the instructions. Most say don't have anything within three feet of the heater," he said. "In this cold weather, space heaters tend to run longer and that will cause the plugs to overheat. Don't leave them unattended.

"And make sure your smoke detectors are working."