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Fire leaves 10 trailer home inhabitants without shelter

South Boston News
Fred Quinn outside his ruined home.
SoVaNow.com / January 17, 2014
A South Boston couple lost all of their possessions when their trailer home residence caught fire Friday, with the flames inflicting damages on two other singlewides parked next door.

Fred Quinn said that he and his live-in partner, Portia Seate, were inside their rental home when he heard a loud popping sound from an outdoor socket. Seconds later flames were lapping up an interior wall, catching a curtain on fire. Quinn said he tried to put out the blaze, but it spread quickly and he and Seate had to get outside quickly.

“We lost everything,” he said.

It all happened very suddenly around noontime. Firefighters received the emergency call at 12:22 p.m. Firefighters from South Boston, Cluster Springs, Turbeville and Midway rushed to the scene.

The trailer was parked tightly together with other singlewides at a trailer park next to Gene’s Orange Market on U.S. 58. By the time fire crews arrived, the trailer home at Lot 32 was fully involved, said South Boston Fire Chief Steve Phillips. Phillips said two other residences, in Lots 31 and 33, were also damaged as flames singed their exteriors. The trailers were packed closely together, about 20 feet apart.

The two adjoining trailers sustained damages of about $1,000 each, with windows shattered by the heat. Firefighters also had to strip away portions of each trailer to check for the possibility of smoldering wires. Each of the dilapidated units had a value of about $10,000, said Phillips.

Only one person, Portia Seate, was injured in the incident. Phillips said she was treated on the scene for burn wounds that he described as minor.

Both of the lesser-damaged trailers were occupied. Inside one lived two people, only one of whom was at home Friday when the fire happened. Inside the other trailer were five children whose mother apparently was away at the store. They escaped without harm after seeing the home next door on fire.

Electricity to all three trailers has been cut, leaving the lesser-damaged units uninhabitable for the time being. All told, said Philips, 10 people have had their lives disrupted by the blaze.

The American Red Cross is assisting the inhabitants of all three homes, he said.

On several occasions, Quinn said, he had spoken to the landlord about the popping sound outside his trailer. He said he believes the sound came from a shorted wire, but nothing was ever done about the problem.

He said he didn’t know exactly what he and Seate would do next, although they may seek shelter with her family.

According to Phillips, Quinn indicated that he and Seate were asleep when they were awakened by the popping sound. Firefighters have not established the cause of the fire.

This story will be updated.

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