Thanks To Working Smoke Detector, No Lives Were Lost & No Injuries
By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
The Shinnston Volunteer Fire Department received a call at 7:38 a.m. this past Sunday, alerting them of a structure fire at 421 East Avenue.
Because of its close proximity to the Fire House, Fire Chief Dylan Oliveto said crews arrived momentarily and found that the fire was heavily involved on both the first and second floors of the home.
“In addition to this, we had concerns because the neighboring residences were very close by,” Oliveto reported. “There were only about four feet between the house that was engulfed and the one on its right … and just six to eight feet between it and the home on its left. So not only did we need to focus on the house on fire but the adjacent structures as well.”
Oliveto said SVFD called immediately for additional aid and crews from Spelter, Lumberport, Worthington, Monongah, Bridgeport, Nutter Fort and Stonewood responded – in addition to the Harrison County EMS, the Shinnston Police Department, and Shinnston Public Works.
“We were very thankful to have the help of so many,” he added. “We don’t very often have situations with houses that close together, so having a lot of manpower on the scene in a short amount of time made all the difference. There was minimal damage to the adjacent structures – a little heat damage and a couple of broken windows. All the mutual aid we received helped tremendously. All together we had about 40 personnel working and we were able to put a crew on each neighboring house to keep the exposures under control while other crews concentrated on the fire. Everyone did a spectacular job!”
Fire Chief Oliveto said it took about two hours to contain the fire, and then crews spent another hour and a half doing cleanup, checking for hot spots and doing investigative work.
It was determined that the fire was accidental and was caused by a gas space heater in the living room area.
“There was one female occupant in the house asleep on the second floor when the fire began. She was awakened by a working smoke detector, which saved her life and helped to protect the adjoining properties because she called for help quickly,” he added.
Oliveto said that fire personnel are always advocating how critical smoke alarms are to family safety. Fatal fires happen most often when families are asleep and occupants are unaware of the fire until there is not adequate time to escape. This was a clear example of what a key role working smoke detectors can play in saving lives.
Due to the home’s size, structure damage is estimated at $150,000 and $75,000 for its contents. Everything was lost, but fortunately there were no injuries.
“We had somewhat of a water issue when we arrived, but it was resolved. During non-peak hours – late at night, very early in the morning, and on weekends – the power plant pulls a large amount of water,” Oliveto explained. “We knew that was likely the reason for our pressure problem and we called them; they shut down their operation so that the fire department could have all the water we needed. That solved the problem.”
Because of the amount of loss suffered, Shinnston Volunteer Fire Department notified the Red Cross before leaving the scene to try to get help for the family occupying the home.
On a positive note, Oliveto concluded, “The weather was in our favor for what we had going on. Just like in the situation a few weeks ago with the building collapse in our downtown area … we were very fortunate. Had there been wind in any direction, we could likely have lost other adjacent structures as well. Conditions were as good as they could have been for us to fight a fire like this one.”
Pictured above is the raging fire that engulfed and ultimately destroyed a home on East Avenue in Shinnston on Sunday.
After the flames were extinguished and the smoke-filled air had cleared, the shell of the home was all that remained. You can see why the close proximity of adjacent residences presented much concern.