By Stephen Smoot
Last week while families around the region prepared for a holiday celebration, Pendleton County’s first responders braved icy temperatures and difficult conditions while working to save lives and property.
At approximately 1 a.m. on Nov. 21, the home of Bruce and Sarah Smith in Upper Tract caught fire. Preliminary indications show that an electric heating pad caused the blaze, although the investigation is still ongoing. Mike Alt, chief of the Upper Tract Volunteer Fire Department, noted that they both escaped because “they felt their feet getting hot.”
Responding units from Upper Tract received support from Franklin and Petersburg fire departments, Upper Tract Rescue Squad, and the Pendleton County Office of Emergency Management. The Upper Tract VFD praised the support on their Facebook page, stating “Great effort by everyone during the cold elements. Everyone did a good job.”
Circleville’s firefighters could not offer support due to their engagement of a camper fire at Seneca Rocks at the same time.
Upper Tract VFD is accepting clothing, non-perishable food, and cash to help the family. The fire department requests that checks be made out to Bruce and Sarah Smith and that items can be left at the Upper Tract VFD Training Center on 11596 Petersburg Pike. The family needs men’s pants size 42 waist, size 10 shoes, and men’s shirts size large. They also need women’s large pants, shoes in a women’s size 8, XL shirt size and bras between 38 and 40 B.
Alt praised the community response, saying “people have been so generous.”
Those with any questions about donations can call Mike Alt at (304) 257-3652.
Later in the week, Franklin Volunteer Fire Department responded to a fire at a poultry house owned by Matt and Tonya Nesselrodt of Franklin. The fire, which took place on Limestone Knob Road, destroyed two houses connected by an egg room, according to Eddie Caplinger, assistant fire chief.
No one was injured by the blaze, including the poultry. As Caplinger explained, “He was getting ready to get birds on Friday, so he didn’t lose anything.” Franklin VFD was supported by units from Upper Tract, South Fork, Circleville and Highland and McDowell in Virginia.