Never Give Fire an Open Door or Unattended Heat Sources

Open doors give fire more ability to spread as one Spring family learned early this morning. Shortly after 12:30, A-Shift Spring Firefighters were dispatched to a house fire on Morgan Park Lane.

As the bay doors opened for District 70 Incident Command Suburban and Ladder 75 to roll out, heavy smoke and the bright orange glow of flames were visible over The Park at Meadowhill neighborhood.

District Chief Kevin Wiseman arrived in just four minutes followed by Ladder 75 that was slowed down by having to move between parked cars on both sides of the neighborhood streets.

While the ladder crew began pulling a 1 3/4 inch attack line hose off the truck and establishing a water supply, Chief Wiseman sized up the heavy fire scene. The blaze was consuming everything in the attached garage and its flames were already leaping to the roof line and the cars in the driveway.

Two women, a man and a child were inside when the fire started, but when the fire crews arrived, all four were safely outside and unharmed.

“The fire was a clear threat, so I directed the crew of Ladder 75 to immediately enter through the front door and cut the fire off from spreading into the living areas,” said Chief Wiseman. “While the interior walls of the house were already blackened by smoke, the crews worked quickly to contain the flames to the garage and laundry area.”

At this point, the crew of Spring Fire Engine 72 arrived to pull a second hose line to assist Ladder 75 inside the house as Chief Wiseman circled the house and turned off the utilities which can fuel a fire. Tower 70’s crew performed a primary search of the entire house declaring the all-clear. It is standard operating procedure for Spring Firefighters to search for fire victims even if the residents have told them no one is in the house.

By this point, Ponderosa’s Engine 62 crew had arrived and began flowing water on the cars in the driveway. The intense flames from garage had already heavily burned the front ends of the vehicles.

The crews of Engines 78 and 77, as well as Rescue 71, arrived on scene to provide further assistance with extinguishing the fire and overhaul. Overhaul is the firefighting phase where firefighters tackle heavily burned items and check for hot spots where fire may still be hiding such as in walls and attic spaces.

(Photos: Firefighter Colten Walla)

“The residents had spent the evening gearing up for a weekend garage sale,” added Wiseman. “One of the residents told me they had left a space heater running and citronella candles burning inside the garage when they went to bed.”

Fortunately for her and the others inside, she awoke to banging and popping sounds coming from the garage and went to investigate. When she opened the door between the laundry room and garage, smoke poured in to the house from the attached garage. She then hit the button on the garage door opener and ran back in to get everyone, including her child, out.

“Not only were there heat sources left unattended in the garage, both the garage door and the door between the garage and the laundry room were open when firefighters arrived,” Chief Wiseman added.

“If you ever open a door and see fire or smoke — immediately shut that door and try to shut all doors in your exit path as everyone inside leaves the building,” advised Wiseman. “Closing doors can delay the growth of a fire and the spread of toxic smoke.”

Spring Firefighters determined the home had no working smoke alarms so if no one had been awakened by the sounds of the fire, this could have been a very tragic situation.

Research has proven that working smoke alarms and closing doors save lives and property.

“Today’s homes are filled with synthetic materials that burn so much faster than people realize,” said Spring Fire Chief Scott Seifert. “Fires burn faster and hotter today than when I started as a volunteer firefighter here in Spring over three decades ago.

In fact, a study by the Underwriters Laboratories found that where forty years ago, a family had 17 minutes to escape a fire, today that number is just THREE minutes.

Click on the picture below for how to plan ahead before a fire starts.

There is a huge difference to what rooms look like after a fire when doors are closed to the toxic smoke fires produce.
Even though this morning’s fire was contained to the garage and laundry room, open doors allowed the smoke to color the interior walls black and the flames to destroy two cars. However, the residents are very lucky someone woke up because the house had no working smoke alarms to alert them to the garage fire.

“In the United States, seven out of ten people who die in building fires had no smoke alarms to alert them to get out,” added Chief Seifert. “Smoke alarms are truly the fire safety success story of my time in the fire service, but there is room for improvement. Nearly 900 lives could be saved annually simply by having more homes with working smoke alarms.”

The Spring Fire Department and National Fire Protection Association recommend smoke alarms be placed inside and outside every sleeping area on every level of a home and that you sound your alarms monthly to ensure their batteries are still functional.

It is also important to dust and vacuum smoke alarms from the outside of the unit to keep debris from building up inside and damaging the technology. If your alarm uses replaceable batteries, those should be changed twice a year.

Don’t forget that all smoke alarms have a lifespan. If the manufacturer’s date on your smoke alarms is prior to 2012 it’s time to replace them. Follow our social media at @SpringFDTX and we will regularly remind you to check your smoke alarms.

Finally, never go to sleep with open flames anywhere in your home whether those flames be in your fireplace or in a seemingly innocuous candle. Space heaters should never be used within three feet of any heat or flammable vapor source. Garages typically hold paints, cleaners and other solvents that can set off ignitable vapors, so never leave an unattended space heater on in your garage.

“This morning we are just glad no one was injured, but some simple fire safety and prevention measures might have prevented this early morning fire which did substantial property damage,” concluded Chief Seifert.