Union fire leaves one homeless

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 15, 2005

UNION – A Union resident is without a place to call home today after a fire swept through her mobile home Saturday night.

The blaze, which was reported at approximately 7:51 p.m., is thought to have been caused by a possible electrical short.

&uot;We’re reasonably certain the source of the blaze was a wall socket in the common area between bedroom and bath room,&uot; said Union Fire Chief Jim King after investigating the scene at 113 Chet Rogerson Road.

Gloria Williams, who had been renting the property, told firefighters that she left the residence around 4:30 p.m. and returned to find the trailer already ablaze. Upon arrival, she heard a buzzing noise she quickly identified as her smoke detector.

&uot;She saw a glow in the windows, opened the back door and saw what she described as a ‘ball of fire’ in her bedroom,&uot; King said.

The call to 9-1-1 came immediately after her discovery and within minutes firefighters from Union and Ahoskie responded and contained the blaze.

King said any number of things could have happened to cause the fire.

&uot;In situations like this, it’s safe to assume the fire was probably started from two wires that weren’t supposed to touch,&uot; he said.

Although Williams did not have renter’s insurance to cover her losses, most of the damage was confined to the bedroom and bathroom with the remainder of the home suffering only smoke damage.

According to King, Williams periodically baby sits for her grandchildren and was fortunate not to be in the house when the fire started. He also stated that Williams, who normally keeps her two dogs inside, had ironically let them out when she left.

&uot;Generally, when a fire occurs in a mobile home, the narrow structure combined with low ceilings acts like a giant tunnel, allowing heat to gravitate very rapidly, resulting in complete damage,&uot; King said.

&uot;That’s why it’s extremely important to make sure homes have properly installed smoke detectors.&uot;

King said the information Williams was able to give firefighters was instrumental in helping them to determine what might be the cause of the fire.

&uot;Information helps educate others to evaluate their own homes,&uot; he said.

Ironically, despite the damage caused by the blaze, none of Williams’ important paperwork was destroyed and she was able to gather together some necessary medication and personal belongings.

King expressed thanks to the Ahoskie Fire Department.

&uot;Containing the fire would have been more difficult without their help,&uot; he said, attributing the quick and concise response to the recent reformation of the county’s fire departments and mutual aid training.

&uot;Training together allows us to get used to working together,&uot; he said.

King also cited newly acquired equipment for assisting firefighters as they put out the fire.

&uot;Cal (Bryant, Editor of the R-C News-Herald) just did a story on our thermal imaging camera and it proved almost indispensable in this situation,&uot; he said. &uot;We were able to use it to keep up with the firefighters that were in the home while checking to see if there were any remaining hot spots. It is an excellent piece of equipment for protecting the guys in there trying to put the fires out.&uot;

He added, &uot;People see us have fundraisers and they see our trucks and such, but it isn’t often they get to see how equipment like this helps in doing our job and doing it more efficiently and it’s good to know it works.&uot;

Due to the damage caused by the fire, the home will likely need to be replaced. In the meantime, Williams will be staying with relatives in Ahoskie.