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Prescott Firemen Care for Family, While Putting Out Fire
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26 December 2017   Don Devendorf, Prescott Fire Marshal

The fire was urgent, yes. But, the family was important to the firefighters.

Editor's Note: We already shared the story of the Prescott Firefighters and organizations that pitched in to make Christmas happen for a family displaced by fire. Now, here’s the information about the fire itself.

On the morning of December 22, 2017, at approximately 3:45 AM, the Prescott Regional Communication Center received a call of a possible structure fire in the 600 block of Lincoln Avenue in central Prescott. It was reported that a home was filling with smoke with no visible flames. A Structure Fire Assignment consisting of three Engine companies, a Truck Company, a Battalion Chief, Prescott Police Department, Lifeline Ambulance, and investigators, were dispatched to the scene. Upon arrival, crews found a house filling with smoke with no visible flames and a family of nine exiting the home. Upon further investigation it was found that there was active fire in the attic of the home that required all the ceilings and insulation to be removed from the attic. The family, which included 4 children, ages 15, 9, 3, and 1, took refuge in a camp trailer with no heat in the back yard of the home until firefighters took the children and their relatives and placed them in their fire engines where they could stay warm.

It took fire crews about 2 hours to assure that the fire was out. Investigation showed that the fire started in the attic of the structure. Many items were noted that could have been the cause but it will take more time to determine exactly what the cause was. Things that were found by investigators were overloaded circuits, old wiring, incorrect circuit breakers, undersized extension cords and extension cords running through doorways that were getting worn and damaged.

There were no working smoke alarms in the home at the time of the fire. Luckily the grandmother woke up to the smell of smoke and awakened everyone else so they could exit the home safely. There were no injuries reported. Volunteers from the Arizona Crisis Team were on scene to assist the family with finding a place to stay since there was enough damage that the house will be uninhabitable. The employer of one of the adults in the house paid for a room at a local motel and the two Arizona Crisis Team volunteers on the scene reached into their own pockets to pay for a second hotel room, as well as running to the store to get diapers for the small children since theirs were wet and it was very cold outside. Crews were able to salvage multiple personal items from the home, including some wrapped Christmas presents.

Damage to the home and contents are estimated to be $70,000. Unfortunately, there are many lessons that can be learned from this fire. First, everyone should make sure that they have AT LEAST one working smoke alarm in each home. Every home should have interconnected, either wired or wireless, smoke alarms in each sleeping room, outside sleeping areas, in the main living area, and on each level of a home. Please check the smoke alarms in your home to assure that they are working. One thing that has been found to work is to give your smoke alarms a birthday so you can change the batteries in them at the same time every year. Every home that uses gas or wood fired appliances should also have at least one Carbon Monoxide alarm in the area of the sleeping rooms. Electrical circuits should never be overloaded- if a circuit breaker pops, there is a reason- there are either too many items on that circuit or another problem that needs to be diagnosed. Contact a licensed electrician to track down problems with your homes electrical system.

Extension cords should not be used in place of permanent wiring. When you do use an extension cord, make sure that the cord that is plugged into it is smaller than the extension cord. Plugging a large diameter wire into a small diameter extension cord will cause the extension cord to heat up and it could cause it to fail and start a fire. Never run extension cords where they can be tripped over, walked on, have door shut on them, or anything else that could cause damage to the cord that could cause a fire later.

Lastly, it is time to remove your fresh cut Christmas tree from your home now that Christmas is over. There is a chance that you tree could be months old and dry enough to pose a hazard to you and your family. If you live in the City of Prescott, information about when the City will come around to pick up your old trees is below.

Christmas Tree Collection

The Solid Waste Division will be performing a curbside Christmas Tree Collection. The City of Prescott Solid Waste Division will pass through each City neighborhood one time only, the week of January 8th through January 12th. Please have trees curbside by 6 a.m. on your normal collection day and cleared of all decorations and stands. Please do not bag trees. City of Prescott residential solid waste customers may also dispose of their live Christmas trees at the Transfer Station for free anytime after Christmas Day through Saturday January 20th. No plastic trees will be picked up during this collection. For information, please call 928-777-1116.