GALLIPOLIS — Although Fire Prevention Week has come and gone, and with it, two very dramatic residential fires in Gallia County, local fire department officials are still seeking to educate the public as to the ways of preventing residential fires.
During a recent meeting of the Gallipolis City Commission, Chief Keith Elliott of the Gallipolis Fire Department spoke about the recent fires on Bulaville Pike and Fraley Drive — two incidents that could have had very different outcomes had it not been for working smoke detectors and the quick actions of a neighbor.
“We had fire prevention week last week, and we had two dramatic situations that drove home the smoke detector issue,” Elliott told the commission.
The first fire occurred at a home located at 4907 Bulaville Pike during the early morning hours of Monday, October 8. Firefighters with the Gallipolis Fire Department arrived on scene within minutes of a 911 call, made entry and quickly extinguished the fire.
According to Elliott, the couple living at the residence were well-prepared with working smoke detectors in their home and both responded to the fire in an manner that is exemplary.
“They were in bed asleep and heard the smoke detector go off, were able to get out of the house and call the fire department from outside,” he said. “They did everything perfect — I mean perfect.”
Gallipolis firefighters were dispatched to a second fire at 127 Fraley Drive on Wednesday morning, October 10, following the rescue of a young mother and her three-year-old child from a burning mobile home.
Reportedly, a neighbor saw a heavy amount of smoke coming from a nearby residence, and, realizing it was on fire, he knocked on the front and back doors of the home to wake the family.
After forcing the doors open and getting the mother outside, the good Samaritan went into the residence on two occasions to rescue anyone else inside.
“He actually went inside the mobile home, saw the little three-year — his hands coming through the smoke — rescued him and got him out,” Elliott stated.
Both the mother and child were evaluated at the scene, but were not taken to the hospital.
The mobile home was completely destroyed, and the cause of the fire has been deemed accidental. It is believed to have originated in or near the kitchen area.
According to Elliott, at the time of the second fire, the mother and child were in the home asleep, and, while they did have a smoke detector, it contained no batteries and was inoperable.
“It doesn’t get any clearer, and I think the message is, ‘You’ve got to have working smoke detectors’. They do save lives,” he said. “In both of these cases, they could have had really dramatic and different outcomes — one because a smoke detector saved [the residents]. The other one, where they didn’t have a smoke detector, if it wasn’t for the neighbor, I’m sure we would have had a double fatality.”