MURRAY — City of Murray Fire Chief Eric Pologruto said two people were left having to find alternate living quarters after a fire early Monday morning.
Pologruto said that, while the house on South Sixth Street is still intact and eventually should be inhabitable, he said that will not be the case for quite some time. And he said it was a wall heater that appears to have been at the center of this blaze, serving as a strong reminder to residents that such devices must be handled with great care, especially now.
“People need to understand that these heaters can be very dangerous,” he said, explaining that it is not so much a malfunction of the heater that is the greatest concern. “You’ve got to keep combustibles away from these things. These can be paper, clothing, furniture. They can catch fire very quickly.
“Also, you need to stay in the same room as the heater. Don’t keep one of these heaters on when you’re out of the room. And you have to watch them carefully because some of these heaters are set with your thermostats and will automatically come on if the house reaches a certain temperature. Those can come on and you not even know it.”
Pologruto said that the reason a wall heater is suspected is because one of the rooms where it was present is believed to be the point of origin. He said the house was able to stay intact because firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading from that one room.
That was difficult to do, though, as firefighters were hampered in reaching the scene quickly due to the early stages of a winter storm that disrupted travel.
“And that is something people have to realize right now. If a fire breaks out, we’re not going to be able to get there as quickly as we normally would,” the chief said, explaining that residents need to be extra cautious for the next few days as Monday’s storm is expected to be followed by another Wednesday into Thursday.
“It is going to be really important that everyone really keep an eye on things. If you haven’t done it in a while, make sure your smoke detectors are working because, if we were to lose power, they’ll be the only thing that can alert you. Here is the scary thing about us not being able to move as fast … if a fire does start, it’s now going to have more time to get going.”
However, there is another hazard Pologruto wants residents to consider and that is the danger firefighters face at a scene at this time of year — ice. He said one firefighter slipped on ice Monday, resulting in an injury to a lower extremity so serious that it required surgery.
“I don’t know if it was from ice that had been around the past three or four days (from a storm that struck Murray last week) or if this was from ice that had formed from water being used to fight the fire,” he said. “However, this too is something we face this time of year and it would be nice if we didn’t have to deal with this too much.”
Pologruto said Monday’s fire did have the mandatory response of two engine company trucks and a ladder truck, along with a battalion chief, which comprises nine firefighters. However, he said that six others who were off duty did respond as well.”
Neither of the house’s occupants were hurt.