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Three house fires wreak damage in county / November 06, 2019
Three house fires kept firefighters busy this weekend across Mecklenburg County.

The first blaze took place around 8 a.m. Saturday when firefighters from Palmer Springs Volunteer Department were dispatched to a home on Jonas Drive.

The flames, which destroyed the single-family home, were ignited by a portable heater inside the home, according to Palmer Springs Fire Chief Larry Clark.

Two adults who were inside the house when the fire ignited escaped without injury. However, their home was a total loss.

At 9:48 a.m. Palmer Springs firefighters were called out to a second fire, this one involving a house trailer on Alexander Ferry Road. Clark said there were two teens at home at the time. They were able to escape unharmed, but the trailer was destroyed by the blaze. He added that the exact cause of the incident has not been determined.

Clark thanked firefighters from South Hill and Boydton who assisted with battling the fires and rescue workers from Southside Rescue who were also at both sites.

Clark urged homeowners to be safe as cold weather sets in. Be sure to have heating systems and heaters inspected before turning them on, he said. Be mindful of where you place portable heaters, making certain they are not placed near flammable materials, and never leave heaters unattended.

Shortly after 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, members of the Clarksville Volunteer Fire Department along with firefighters from Boydton and Chase City were called to a home in the 100 block of Willow Oak in Clarksville. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze in about 20 to 30 minutes, due in part to the quick actions of the homeowners and neighbors who began spraying the fire with water from garden hoses.

Still, the home sustained significant smoke and water damage and the sunroom and attic were fully destroyed by the flames.

The family was able to escape without injury. Fire teams cleared the scene by 4:23 p.m.

Assistant Fire Chief Mike Lejda said the exact cause of the blaze is undetermined. He estimated the extent of the fire damage at about 20 percent of the dwelling and believes the home can be repaired.

The family is now staying with friends and relatives and shared news on social media that they are all fine and blessed to be part of such a supportive community.

Shriver thanked firefighters from Chase City and Boydton and the Mecklenburg County Lifesaving and Rescue Squad for their help Sunday. While he did not indicate that a faulty heater played any part in the blaze Sunday — Shriver listed the cause as “accidental” — he shared the same words of caution expressed by Clark: check all heating systems, even portable ones, before turning them on. Also, be sure to place portable heaters in open areas, away from furniture, drapes or anything that can burn and be ever mindful when handling hot or burning items.

These firefighters point out that most fires are unexpected because they’re caused by everyday items normally considered safe: a stove burner left on, a burning candle left unattended, or an electric space heater placed too close to something flammable, or even a cigarette butt not fully extinguished and dropped in the wrong place. What typically makes them dangerous are mental lapses, hurried actions and simple carelessness.

While everyone makes mistakes, they say you can vastly cut down deadly fire risks by exercising good safety habits and simple prevention steps.

The American Red Cross adds these four safety tips:

» Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.

» Test smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries.

» Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.

» If a fire occurs in your home, get out, stay out and call for help. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.

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