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Fire claims Allisonia couple’s home

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

An Allisonia couple returned from an errand Sunday evening to find their home on fire, according to Hiwassee Fire Chief Donald Boyd.

Boyd said Hiwassee Fire Department was dispatched to 1510 Julia Simpkins Road in Allisonia around 8 p.m., after the homeowners’ attempts to extinguish the blaze failed. When firefighters arrived just minutes after being dispatched, the single-story home was fully engulfed.

“Fire was coming out the room and the entire house was engulfed,” when the first units arrived on the scene, Boyd said. He said the couple and their dogs were out of the structure when firefighters arrived on scene. The female occupant was able to rescue the family’s dogs before the residence was engulfed.

Boyd urged anyone finding a home or other property on fire to call 9-1-1 to report the fire before trying to extinguish it on alone. This gets the fire department en route faster, which could save the property if initial attempts to put out the fire fail.

Although the wind was less severe that time of night than it had been earlier in the day Sunday, Boyd said it was a factor in how fast the fire spread throughout the structure. Since the house could not be saved, the primary goal of firefighters was trying to keep the fire from spreading beyond the structure.

An estimated 35-40 personnel and 12-14 pieces of equipment responded to the scene from Hiwassee, Snowville, Barren Springs and Newbern fire departments. Since there are no fire hydrants in that area, water was pumped into tankers from the river and shuttled to the scene.

A “roaring” propane tank that had fallen over on the front porch and started leaking initially met firefighting efforts, Boyd said. Another tank, possibly on a grill, discharged later. “You never know what you’re going to find on a scene,” he said.

Heat from the propane tanks, coupled with the structure fire itself, left the house a total loss and damaged an ATV, two personal watercraft that were parked 30-40 feet from the residence, and the couple’s automobile. Headlights and other parts on the automobile and watercraft melted.

Boyd said the area around the residence was so tight only two trucks could enter the immediate area at a time. Access also was limited by about 10 vehicles parked adjacent to the structure.

Although the couple had other vehicles besides the one that was heat damaged, Boyd noted the keys were inside the residence. Red Cross was assisting the couple.

The origin and cause of the fire is being investigated. All units were back at the department around 1 a.m.

Boyd said one firefighter received a “small foot injury” while on the scene. No other injuries were reported.

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