RSS feed of this blog

Quick response to fire saves two

It was the kind of response any fire chief would want, especially one just a week into his tenure.

Every fire and rescue station in Spotsylvania County was manned Monday night when dispatchers received a call for a house fire on Lansdowne Road with someone trapped inside.

The call came in at 10:21 p.m. as temperatures outside were plunging. Six minutes later, the first fire engine arrived, Spotsylvania County Fire Chief Monty Willaford said.

Volunteer firefighters from Station 4, located less than two miles away, reached the house to find that a Spotsylvania Sheriff’s deputy had already rescued a male occupant.

The firefighters then began searching for a woman who was confined to her bed. They quickly found her and brought her outside to safety and medical evaluation.

Within minutes of the first call, 36 people on board five fire engines, a ladder truck and three EMS units were on the scene, a combination of career and volunteer fire and rescue personnel from Spotsylvania, and one unit from Fredericksburg.

By 10:34 p.m., the fire was under control, and by 11 p.m., it was extinguished, Willaford said.

Smoke had filled the single-story house and firefighters soon discovered the fire had started in the basement.

The cause was still being investigated Tuesday afternoon, Willaford said. The fire marshal had been on scene Monday night and early Tuesday and planned to meet with insurance investigators as part of the evaluation.

They ruled out a space heater or any other obvious cause, Willaford said.

The man was treated on scene. The woman was taken to Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation, Willaford said.

He did not have details on the ages or identities of the home’s occupants.

Virginia Department of Transportation personnel were called in as firefighters prepared to depart. They were needed to spread sand to prevent ice forming from water left by the hoses used to fight the fire.

Monday night’s incident proved the value of having the county’s fire and rescue stations manned around the clock by a combination of volunteers and career staff and the importance of training, Willaford said

Those facts and the assistance of a county deputy were key to that incident’s positive outcome.

“Had we not had the response more than likely we would have had a fatality,” said Willaford, who became the county’s chief on Dec. 30.

“People question the system a lot, but when the system comes together, like it did [Monday] night, the results are undeniable because you can’t put a price on one life.”

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972