Rolla Rural Fire and the St. James Fire Department responded to a single-wide mobile home fire in the 12200 block of County Road 2050, on Tuesday evening at 4:29 p.m.—but things were just heating up for the firefighters on a cold evening.
Rolla Rural Fire and the St. James Fire Department responded to a single-wide mobile home fire in the 12200 block of County Road 2050, on Tuesday evening at 4:29 p.m.
“We had a truck in route at 4:30 p.m. and arrived on the scene at 4:39 p.m.,” said Rolla Rural Fire Chief Roger Hayes.
“It appears right now that this trailer had frozen pipes due to the weather,” he explained. “Someone tried to help them out with a salamander (torpedo-shaped) heater put underneath the trailer. They were trying to do the right thing, to unfreeze the pipes, but it was near combustible materials and caught fire.”
A pumper truck, a brush truck, support vehicle and three tankers were on the scene within 10 minutes, according to the Chief. If that seems like overkill, the Chief explained it was simply a matter of getting manpower to the site of the fire.
“Our support vehicle was there because it has a walk-in box on the back, so we had heat going in case somebody got too cold,” he said.
Two tankers were ultimately used to dowse the flames of the mobile home which was 75 percent engulfed in flames upon arrival of the first crew.
“When it got called in, we were told the mobile home was 50 percent involved (50 percent burning),” added the Chief.
He said this was an older mobile home that is usually lighter construction and isn’t as air-tight as the newer models, which helps to feed oxygen to a fire.
“InterCounty [Electric Coop] responded to cut the power and we wound up using the St. James Fire Department’s pumper truck, as well,” added the Chief.
“We used about 8,000 gal. of water to extinguish the fire,” he noted.
Three adults and two children in the home received local Red Cross assistance.
The recent cold weather has been a headache for motorists as well.
Following the mobile home fire, there was also a pickup truck (2002 Ford F-350) fire called in at 7:29 p.m. on County Road 2050, at Corral Drive. In this case, Chief Hayes said a heater was placed in front of the truck facing the front grill.
“I think the diesel fuel was getting thick due to the cold temperature, so a heater was hooked up, catching the vehicle on fire,” said the Chief. “When we got on the scene, the truck was fully involved.”
750 gal. of water was used to douse the fire, which was an initial concern, due to its proximity to the house.
“We haven’t got 9 of our full-time guys [hired], but we’ve got seven,” said Chief Hayes. He said with these new hires on board, they’ve noticed a decrease in the time it takes to get a truck in route to a fire. Though this was not a surprise to him, he said this is one of the big benefits to having three shifts of three full-time firefighters per shift at the station. Even with two hires to go, they’ve seen the respond time improve, which can mean the difference between saving lives and property.
“It used to take five to 10 minutes just to get a truck in route, as well as the drive time, so getting a truck on this fire within ten minutes [from the time of dispatch] is not bad, he explained.
Chief Hayes said cold weather brings on chimney flue and furnace fires or improperly disposed ashes (with burning embers) can start fires. He cautioned about the use of portable heaters, and with electric heaters, the use of improper extension cords.
“We’ve had five calls this year so far—and the year’s just getting started.”