By Crystal Burns
The Gibson County and Trenton Fire Departments battled two major house fires in and around the city last week.
On July 12 at around 7:30 p.m., county firefighters responded to 27 Marion Dodd Loop in Brazil after a passerby reported heavy smoke coming from the roof. Fire Chief Bryan Cathey said the home was fully involved when firefighters arrived. The homeowners, Jeff and Elaine Maitland, were not home at the time of the fire.
Cathey said it took firefighters about an hour-and-a-half to get the fire under control, and they stayed on the scene about four hours. He said it appears that the fire started in the kitchen and rose into the attic quickly.
“Once you get a fire rolling in the attic, it’s tough to get it out,” he said.
The house is a total loss, but Cathey said the family could be able to save some furniture. He said the majority of the living area was damaged by smoke and water.
The Trenton Fire Dept. provided mutual aid on Marion Dodd Loop. Less than two hours after units returned to the city, the department was called to a structure fire at 321 E. Huntingdon St. Gibson Co. Fire personnel returned the favor, joining the Dyer Fire Dept., Humboldt Area Rescue Squad, Gibson County EMS, and Madison County Fire Dept. to help Trenton.
The abandoned residence was fully involved when firefighters arrived. The fire spread to the adjacent residence, also vacant, and the home at 325 received heat damage to the west side. Fire Chief Terrence Elam said those residents were unharmed and able to stay in their home.
It took about three hours to control and extinguish the fire.
The state fire investigative unit was called to examine both fires. Elam said a bomb/arson dog hit on three spots in 321 E. Huntingdon, meaning the canine detected some type of accelerant. He is asking anyone with information about the fire to contact the Tennessee Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017 or the Trenton Fire Dept. at 855-0522. Callers remain anonymous.
Elam said Trenton Fire had responded to 321 E. Huntingdon St. over a year ago. He said there is no connection between last week’s fire and the Independence Day blaze, which is believed to be accidental, that destroyed a vacant home on East Second St.
Cathey said he called in the investigative unit because state law says a fire chief must determine where the fire started and what caused it. He asked Madison County Fire for help, and investigators confirmed that the fire began in the kitchen but were unable to pinpoint the cause.
Cathey and Elam both thanked the fire and EMS personnel that provided aid in both instances. Cathey said that EMS treated 16-18 firefighters on the scene in Brazil for heat exhaustion and dehydration.
“It was extremely hot,” Cathey said.