Area firefighters were kept busy the afternoon of Jan. 6.
“We received three calls within an hour,” said Bill Craig, Sunman Rural Fire Department chief, the following day. “Around 4:05 p.m., a call came in that there was smoke in the attic at 324 Vine St.
“When I was getting into my truck, I called to Morris to have its RIT (rapid intervention team) ready. For structure fires, this team is ready to rescue trapped or down firefighters if needed .... Batesville was also put on standby. Temperatures were about 7 below zero, and with the wind chills if we had a working house fire, the temperatures would be a problem. You can’t work real long without relief, and ... (the cold causes problems with) water lines and frozen pipes.
“We were on scene within five minutes, which was pretty quick. The only attic access was on the exterior because they (the owners) had done some remodeling. Smoke was coming out of the attic scuttle and out of the front of the house through a vent.
“We sent two men in back of the house to find the fire. Another two-man team went in the front door into a bedroom. Using a thermal imaging camera, they shot the ceiling, and it was reading a very high temperature of heat. The team in the attic found the fire about the same time the guys on the first floor did. They pulled the ceiling down and helped extinguish it with a minimal amount of water. There was very little damage to the house .... but another 15 minutes would have been a totally different story.”
The cause “was a staple that went through an electric line ... over time, it started to char the wood and eventually caught fire.
“It was my understanding they were getting an electrician out there (Jan. 7). We did call the Ripley County Red Cross because the family couldn’t stay there without any electricity because of the frigid temperatures. The Red Cross found a place for them for the night.”
The chief reported, “Twenty-four men responded to the fire station. Sixteen were on scene with eight on standby. Morris showed up with probably at least eight to 10. We had both pumpers at the fire, so Batesville was on standby at the station in case we got another call.
“In the time before Batesville got there, we had a carbon monoxide run, and those on standby took care of it. There was also a fire alarm call on 1100 North toward St. Nicholas, but that proved to be just an alarm malfunction.”
Milan was also put on standby in case more help was needed. Craig pointed out, “When the weather becomes inclement, and during the hot season as well, the neighboring fire departments work very well together, providing manpower and backing each other up.”
The firefighter offered advice, “Make sure your homes have smoke detectors and that they’re operating .... if you’re using space heaters, make sure they’re a good distance away from fabrics, bedding, couches and make sure you have the types that if they’re knocked over, they turn off.
“You have to be smart about what you’re doing and take precautions,” he added.
Diane Raver can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.