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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Fire began in oven

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

By HARRISON HAMLET - Special to the Bulletin

An unattended oven caused a fire that displaced a city family Monday night and left the house unsalvageable, said city Fire Marshal Ted Anderson.

The two adults and one child who were renting the home at 1412 Askin St. were outside when the fire began, and no injuries were reported, Anderson said.

The city fire department received a call around 5 p.m. Monday at 1406 Askin St. for a malfunctioning kerosene heater, Anderson said. Only moments after they left that home, firefighters received a call regarding a fire nearby, at 1412 Askin St.

Flames were visible when firefighters arrived, Anderson said.

The firefighters were able to enter the single story, vinyl-sided wooden home quickly, he said, and spent several hours inside trying to salvage the structure and its contents. However, the home and its contents — the value of which Anderson estimated at $60,000 — could not be saved, he said.

The blaze began in the kitchen, Anderson said.

“The family was preparing for dinner and they thought they had turned the oven off before going outside. That didn’t happen. It was just an accident, an unfortunate mistake,” he said. “But I’m glad everybody within the home was outside of the home when the fire started. They decided extinguishing it was not a good idea, and they remained outside of the home. They called 911 and waited for the firefighters to arrive, which is what we encourage citizens to do.”

The local chapter of the American Red Cross was helping the family find temporary lodging Tuesday, Anderson said.

Beverly Gaydas, disaster services program manager for the American Red Cross of Martinsville, said Tuesday that she did not yet have the details of the case, but she outlined the general plan for disaster recovery when a family is displaced.

“Our standard is three nights in a hotel, and if they lost everything we’ll give them funds for clothing and groceries and referrals to other agencies,” she said.

After a particularly busy time for area firefighters, with several fires already in the new year, Anderson is pushing for fire safety.

“Check your smoke alarms. Contact the city or Henry County Public Safety if you need fire alarms for your home,” he said. “For rental property, I strongly encourage renters insurance. It is generally extremely inexpensive, and when an emergency happens like this, it’s tough to recover without it.”

Anderson said it is unclear whether the displaced family had renters insurance.

Gaydas echoed Anderson’s concerns over the recent string of fires in the area.

“This winter has been terrible with fires in this area and the whole southwest region. It’s been tough,” she said. “We’re always there, though. Our donors come through for us, and we’re always there for the suffering families.”

Property owner Ginger Webb could not be reached for comment Tuesday.


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