By Stephen Smoot
County first response volunteers battled two blazes to start the new year, responding to house fire calls on both Jan. 5 and 7.
The first call came at 12:45 p.m. on Jan. 5, requesting response to a Walnut Street house fire in an unoccupied residence. Both Upper Tract and South Fork Volunteer Fire Departments rendered mutual aid.
“The Franklin department had a fast response,” noted Richard Nelson, chief of the FVFD. He added that the “road was shut down by the West Virginia State Police and the Pendleton County Sheriff’s Office.”
Nelson also reported that “nobody was home at the time of the fire” and “no injuries were noted on the call.”
The fire took place in a two and a half story residence. According to reports “apparatus and personnel responded quickly” to the “heavy fire showing from the rear of the structure.” All crews launched “an aggressive attack” that “knocked down (the fire) within 10 minutes of arriving on scene.”
Bystanders assisted fire crews in stretching out the hoses.
The fast response preserved structures on either side of the fire with minimal surface damage. Reports stated that “all personnel on scene worked together as a team to aggressively and quickly get the fire under control.”
Jan. 7 brought another call in to FVFD, this time requiring a response over snow covered roads. They responded to a house fire on the 4000 block of Smith Creek Road. According to Nelson, another “fast response by FVFD personnel was able to keep it in the walls.”
Firefighters arriving on scene first took the initiative instead of waiting for the arrival of the apparatus. “The residence was off the roadway across a stream,” reports explained, going on to say that “crews had to carry water extinguishers, hand tools, and saws across a foot bridge to the residence.
Until the apparatus arrived, crews were “using buckets of water and pulling walls open with their hands” to save the home. Responding units successfully contained the fire in the walls, reducing damage.
Nelson reported that no injuries occurred on the call. He also shared that “two occupants were displaced until repairs can be made. And Rick Gillespie helped them to get everything started with the Red Cross” to get them into temporary lodging and meet other needs.
Upper Tract VFD arrived as mutual aid and Pendleton County Emergency Rescue went on standby at the station.