Quick thinking saves house

Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2008

 

  Firefighters from Central Emergency Services work at the scene of a house fire Tuesday afternoon in a neighborhood five miles down Funny River Road. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Firefighters from Central Emergency Services work at the scene of a house fire Tuesday afternoon in a neighborhood five miles down Funny River Road.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

A Funny River family may have sustained damage to much of their home as a result of a structure fire Tuesday afternoon, but things could have been a lot worse had they not called 911 at the first signs of smoke.

"If they hadn't noticed when they did, we would have had a serious fire," said Gary Hale, fire marshal for Central Emergency Services in Soldotna.

Hale said firefighters were called into action at 3:12 p.m. when Burt Nelson observed thick, black smoke coming from the gable vents of his 2,200-square-foot home at 42150 Salamatoff Drive, located roughly 4.5 miles down Funny River Road.

"He was in his workshop with a friend when they smelled what he thought was trash burning. They stepped outside and noticed the smoke coming from vents near the top of the house and immediately called 911," he said.

Hale said CES responded by sending one fire engine, a ladder truck, a medical unit, four tanker trucks and four command vehicles. They also requested mutual aid, in the form of another tanker, from the Kenai Fire Department.

"The first engine arrived eight minutes after the initial call and observed smoke coming from the rear of the occupancy," he said.

Flames were located in the basement area near a Monitor heating unit, according to Hale.

"The fire was contained to structural portions of the stairways and joists above the Monitor. The fire was under control within 23 minutes of the first engine arriving, and declared out within another 30 minutes," he said.

Hale said the fire may have resulted from a series of events set in motion when Nelson accidentally stepped on a fuel line while working on the exhaust-clean air return system of the Monitor heating unit.

"Fire investigators determined a leak from the Monitor, which held diesel. When the pilot light ignited the burner, it may have ignited the diesel fumes and fuel, which then spread to storage in the basement," he said.

The structure was unoccupied at the time of the fire, so no injuries were reported, but the fire-heat-smoke damage to the home was extensive, possiblY in excess of $50,000 according to Hale.

The family has been referred to the American Red Cross in Anchorage for emergency assistance.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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