Family loses home to fire

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A fire that destroyed the home of Debra Ann Helton on Woods Road remains under investigation by fire officials.

Atmore Fire Chief Gerry McGhee said the exact cause of the blaze has not been determined with state officials joining in the investigation.

“The state fire marshal came in and assisted with the investigation,” McGhee said Tuesday. “After a full inspection of the scene more information will be available.”

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McGhee said crews with his department were on the scene for several hours handling the blaze that fully engulfed the home.

“Our crews were out there for about three hours,” McGhee said. “We did return later in the evening to a call of smoke at the location, but there were no flare ups.”

The Atmore Fire Department was assisted by personnel with the Poarch Fire Department as well as officers with the Atmore Police Department and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

McGhee said there were no residents at the home when the fire was reported. No injuries were reported due to the blaze.

McGhee said firemen are battling more problems than house fires with current weather conditions holding a steady dry pattern.

“The weather is so dry right now there is a lot of danger when it comes to fires,” McGhee said. “Because the conditions are so dry we have issued a no burn notice in the City of Atmore.”

McGhee said residents should avoid burning any materials in open spaces in yards and fields in the area.

“Leaves are starting to fall and people will want to burn their leaves in the yard,” McGhee said. “Since everything is so dry it would be easy for a fire to quickly get out of hand. That’s why we believe it is important to have this ban on burning in place in the city.”

McGhee said firefighters and other fire officials for the city will also be working their way through the business district to help with plans in the event of fire at any business location.

“We will have our firefighters going around to businesses in the area to work on a pre-fire plan with them,” McGhee said. ‘We will check businesses to make sure we have a map of where gas valves and switch boxes are located so that our crews will know where to turn off those services in the event of a fire.”

McGhee said firefighters will also be updating contact information for each business during the pre-fire planning sessions.

“We want to make sure that we have updated information on who to contact if there is a fire at any of our businesses,” McGhee said. “We will be getting in touch with each business and business owner soon to update this information.”

McGhee said the pre-fire plans are done twice each year to ensure the most up-to-date information is on file with the department.

For information on how to prevent fires or questions concerning proper home evacuation plans, contact the Atmore Fire Department at 368-9156.

Firefighters with the Atmore Fire Department work to extinguish the fire that destroyed the home of Debra Ann Helton Monday afternoon on Woods Road.|Photo by Adam Prestridge