Leadership

Columbus (IN) Firefighters Rescue Dogs from House Fire

Smoke vents from a home as Columbus (IN) firefighters conduct fire attack operations.

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By Mike Wilson

Columbus (IN) firefighters rescued two dogs from fire that damaged home yesterday.

At 2:28 p.m., firefighters were called to 2143 23rd street after a passerby noticed smoke coming from the residence and called 911. As firefighters responded to the address, Columbus police officers arrived at the scene and relayed to 911 dispatchers that visible smoke was coming from the home. Firefighters arrived moments later to find a single-story residence with a large amount of white smoke coming from the roof and eaves and two vehicles parked in home’s driveway.

According to the incident commander, Battalion Chief Terry Whitis, crews were preparing to make entry to search the home when they received information from a neighbor that the residents were not at the residence. Unable to confirm the home was vacant, firefighters attempted to open the front entry door. This attempt to enter was unsuccessful as the door was locked from the inside. Using forcible entry tools–an ax and a halligan bar–firefighter breached the front entry door of the residence. As the firefighters prepared to enter the home, a black pitbull exited from the open door and moved to the side of the residence out of site from crews working at the scene.

Firefighters entered the home and immediately found flames in the living room. As responders worked to extinguished the fire, an additional crew searched the home for occupants. During the search, firefighters discovered a dog crate located in the vicinity of the living room and determined that it contained a dog. The search crew immediately removed the crate to the exterior of the home. After removing the dog crate from the home, firefighters outside of the residence assessed the dog and determined that it was all right, although high heat inside the home had begun to disfigure the plastic crate. Search crews reentered the home and determined the occupancy was clear of additional pets and persons.

Within three minutes of applying water to flames, the fire was marked under control. Firefighters remained inside the home as they searched for hidden pockets of fire. No additional fire was located.

As crews worked at the scene, a male resident arrived at the scene and told investigators that, among other things, the family uses a wood burning stove for heat. The resident told investigators that he had left for work before 5 a.m. with wood burning in the stove, and the home did not have electric, gas, or water service. On March 22, 2014, Columbus firefighters responded to the same location for a residential structure fire that caused significant damage to the home and killed a pet dog and a pet cat. The cause of the 2014 fire was determined to be accidental due to a space heater, and investigators learned that the gas service to the home had been disconnected since 2009. A Columbus police officer was injured during the 2014 incident after receiving a dog bite while attempting to assist the occupants to safety. The resident told investigators that the family has been living in the home as they make repairs for damaged sustained in the 2014 fire. Both dogs were reunited with the resident at the scene.

Columbus Fire Department investigators examined the wood-burning stove and determined that the operating condition of the stove was a contributing factor in the fire and have ruled the cause as accidental. The home did not have working smoke alarms. The family was displaced due to the fire and are receiving assistance from the American Red Cross.

Agencies that assisted at the scene include the Columbus Police Department, The American Red Cross, Columbus Animal Care, Columbus City Utilities, Duke Energy, Vectren Energy, and Columbus Regional Health EMS. No injuries were reported at the scene.

The Columbus Fire Department would like to remind residents about the dangers associated with leaving a supplemental heating device unattended. Heating equipment is involved in one of every six reported home fires and one in every five home fire deaths. If you are using a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, keep combustible materials at least three feet away for the heat source. Have a professional chimney inspection done annually and never plug more than one heat-producing appliance into an electrical outlet at a time. Working smoke alarms save lives. Last year, 2262 home fire deaths were reported nationally, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Mike Wilson is a captain and spokesman for the Columbus (IN) Fire Department.