APD officer's house a total loss in fire

Published 6:28 am Wednesday, July 26, 2006

By By Adam Prestridge
An Atmore Police officer's home was destroyed following an early morning fire Sunday off Jacks Springs Road near Poarch.
Officer Steve Morris and his family were out of town camping in Monroe County when their two-story, log-cabin style home burst into flames at 2:08 a.m. and burned to the ground. The flames could be seen as far away as downtown Atmore and the Poarch Band of Creek Indian Reservation.
"When we got on the scene I knew there wasn't hardly anything left of the house," Atmore Fire &Rescue Department chief Gerry McGhee said. "The house was fully engulfed in flames and ammunition was going off, so my captains and I decided that the best thing to do was to back off and let the fire die down, then try to put it out. We knew there was nothing else we could do for it and I did not want to get anybody hurt."
Sunday afternoon, Morris sifted through the ashes of what was left of his home searching for any salvageable items to recover. He also pointed out the locations of each of his 17 rifles, five pistols and loaded ammunition case he had stored in the house to an official with the Alabama State Fire Marshal's Office.
McGhee said firefighters have to be extremely cautious when arriving to a scene involving highly explosive materials such as ammunition or combustibles.
"When you pull up on a scene like that, you have to be extremely careful," McGhee said. "If there are any other surrounding homes that are near it, you try to protect them. This house is out in an open field, so there wasn't any houses close to it."
The fire was so involved when the Atmore Fire &Rescue Department arrived on the scene that McGhee called in the Poarch Volunteer Fire Department for assistance. Poarch arrived with an additional pumper truck that holds 1,000 gallons of water and a tanker with a capacity of 5,000 gallons to assist in dousing the fire.
"We would like to thank Poarch for their assistance because it was greatly appreciated," McGhee said.
Atmore had two pumper trucks, a rescue truck and a service truck on the scene. They returned back to the station around 5:45 a.m.
In addition to the home and contents, an SUV and two four-wheelers were claimed in the fire. Morris' police patrol car, which was parked beside the home, was also destroyed in the blaze.
According to Mike Talley with the Alabama State Fire Marshal's Office the cause of the fire was declared undetermined, but non-suspicious. He said arson is not suspected.
Morris has been with the Atmore Police Department for three years.

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