Greenville Fire Department prevents disaster

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 7, 2000

The Greenville Fire Department responded to a reported house fire Monday afternoon, and stopped what could surely have spelled disaster.

At approximately 4:30 p.m., two fire units responded to 600 South Street to find heavy smoke coming from the front doorway of the house.

Upon entering the house, firefighters found that a sofa was on fire, and was beginning to scorch the wall of the living room.

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The fire was quickly extinguished before it could spread, and it was at that time, according to Fire Chief Mike Phillips, that the investigation as to the cause of the fire began.

&uot;We determined the cause to be electrical,&uot; Phillips said, &uot;there was a portable electric heater connected to the service with a light-duty extension cord.&uot;

Phillips said the cord got too hot, and melted, causing a short-circuit. &uot;The fire quickly spread to a sofa and television,&uot; Phillips said. &uot;In just a minute or two more, the house itself would have caught fire.

&uot;The practice of using light-duty cords for more than they can handle is a common one,&uot; he said. &uot;General purpose extension cords are not designed to carry the load of a heater.&uot;

Phillips said this family was lucky, for several reasons. &uot;First, this fire was during the daytime–if it had happened at night, after the residents were asleep, the smoke could easily have put them into a deeper sleep, and consumed the house before it was detected.

&uot;Secondly, it was found early enough that we could stop it’s spread before it caused disaster. If the fire had started at night, it could have spread to the entire house in about six minutes, from the time it started,&uot; he said.

Fire officials estimated that fire caused approximately $1,200 in damage, mostly to contents.

&uot;We wish to encourage homeowners to use electric appliances safely,&uot; Phillips said. &uot;Appliances that use high current loads should be connected directly to the outlet, and outlets should not be overloaded by multiple connection adapters.&uot;

Phillips said that this is the busiest time of the year for the fire service, and caution can prevent catastrophe. &uot;During the holiday season, electrical equipment is used more frequently,&uot; Phillips said. &uot;Many house fires are caused by holiday lighting that is left on while the occupants are out of the house for extended periods of time.&uot;

Chief Phillips urges anyone with questions about electric safety to call the Greenville Fire Department at (334) 382-7183.