Community members and first responders filled Temple Street in Washington C.H. on Friday evening as a local family’s home filled with heat and smoke from a first-floor fire.
There were no injuries reported from the fire. The home, located at 632 E. Temple St., still stands and according to Washington Fire Chief Tim Downing, should be fixable and therefore is not a total loss. The owner of the home is listed in the report as David Pettiford and the person involved is listed as Carla Harris.
According to the report of the incident, the alarm to signal the Washington Fire Department went off at 4:04 p.m. and the arrival time on scene was 4:07 p.m.
Upon arrival, the report noted the firefighters observed “a moderate amount of smoke coming from the rear of the structure and no occupants out front.”
Upon completion of a “360 view” of the structure, it is noted in the report that “heavy fire” was found coming out of two ground floor windows on the northwest corner of the structure. That fire was jumping to the neighboring house.
At this point the firefighters made contact with the Washington Police Department and the home owner, confirming that everyone who lives in the home was accounted for.
Entry into the home along with a primary search were conducted. Hot spots and flare-ups in the room where the fire began were extinguished. The report notes that firefighters salvaged items for the occupants.
The fire was considered controlled at 6:39 p.m. and the last responder cleared the scene at 7:33 p.m.
Although it was determined the fire began in the northwestern corner of the northwestern room, the exact cause of the fire is undetermined.
Due to the number of possibilities, Downing explained they did not have a way to narrow the cause down although there were no signs of arson. As there was no insurance for the property, there will be no insurance investigations conducted.
The fire was mostly contained within the room it originated in although it did burn through the double doors and partially into another part of the home.
Smoke and heat did travel throughout the home which can also cause damage as smoke acts as fuel, Downing explained. Smoke spreads, finds oxygen and will continue to reignite.
One of the reasons the fire was able to be contained mostly to the room it originated in was due to how the family recently remodeled.
According to Downing, the family had double-layered the dry-wall which is what helped keep the fire from breaking through. He said that typically once fire breaks through the structure it would travel to the attic. At that point a great portion of the house is lost if not all of it.
The neighboring house did sustain damage from flames through the windows.
Mutual aide was received from every department in the county as staffing was low with it being a Friday evening. Pic-A-Fay Joint Fire Department ran the Washington Fire Department station while they were on scene. Concord-Green Township Fire Department, Jefferson Township Fire Department, BPM Joint Fire Department and Wayne Township Fire Department assisted on scene.
Box65 Scene support did not respond as the firefighters were not on the scene for a long duration.
Of the Washington Fire Department, three people were working and went to the scene in full gear while two off-duty firefighters were passing by and stopped to assist with duties that didn’t require them to have their gear.
Downing had comments of appreciation and gratitude for the Washington Police Department, which kept traffic controlled and away from the scene.
“Our hoses are our lifeline. Motorists driving by a fire scene who just drive over the hoses put firefighters at risk,” said Downing. “They break that hose, the water supply goes away. The firefighters can no longer protect themselves inside the structure and the heat and flames can overtake them very quickly.
He said, “The police are part of the same team of people working together to help the community. They went out there and they did a great job. So, a special thank you to the police department for everything they do for us.”
It was brought to the responders’ attention that a person had been seen re-entering the home, then leaving it again before the firefighters had arrived.
“Once you’re out of the building just stay out of the building,” said Downing. “If you think someone is in there the best way to get them out is to tell us where they should be so our guys can go get those people. If you try to run in without the proper protective gear, you can be overcome by smoke and become a victim yourself.”
He said, “Get out, stay out. Let us put the fire out.”
There have been posts on Facebook asking for donations to assist the family with food and items needing replacement as they are raising eight children. Many of these posts can be found on the “Fayette County Lets Chat” group.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.