By MELINDA WILLIAMS
A discarded cigarette and an electric heater placed on a plastic tote have been blamed for two house fires in the town of Pulaski Saturday.
Pulaski Fire Marshal Todd Garwood said Pulaski Fire Department was dispatched to the first fire at 5:21 a.m. Saturday. Upon arrival at 1307 Howard St., firefighters found heavy smoke coming from the single-story structure.
Garwood said the occupant of the residence, who asked the fire department not to release his name, was outside of the structure. Although smoke detectors in the home were operational, he said the resident discovered the fire upon exiting the kitchen.
“He came out of the kitchen and saw fire in the area towards the bedrooms and ran outside and called the fire department,” Garwood said of the man, who lived in the residence alone.
An investigation determined the fire was accidental and started in the living room area as the result of “discarded smoking materials,” which Garwood identified as being a cigarette.
He estimated damage to the house at $70,000 and said he considers it to be a total loss. Most of the man’s belongings were also lost.
Roger Hudson with the New River Valley Chapter of American Red Cross assisted the resident with food, clothing and temporary lodging.
Pulaski Fire Department responded to the scene with five pieces of equipment and 18 personnel. They were assisted by one piece of equipment and eight personnel from Dublin Fire Department and the county air truck, which fills firefighter’s air tanks.
The last fire unit left the scene at 8:45 a.m., but they didn’t have long to rest before the second fire call was dispatched at 9:42 a.m.
Pulaski firefighters found heavy smoke coming from a single-story structure at 3636 Second Morehead Lane upon arriving on the scene, Garwood said. No one was home at the time.
He said the fire was started between the kitchen and bedroom by an electric space heater that was placed too close to combustibles.
Garwood estimated damage at $15,000, saying the fire was contained to two rooms. He did not know the identities of the residents, but he noted the home is owned by Diane Whited.
Pulaski Fire Department responded with three pieces of equipment and 16 personnel, while Dublin’s department responded with two pieces of equipment and seven personnel.
The last unit cleared the scene at 12:30 p.m.
Hudson said Red Cross also provided help with food and clothing for the residents of the house.