Four fires in 10 days in Claxton community: What firefighters want you to avoid


CLAXTON, Tenn. (WATE) — Four houses have caught fire within a span of 10 days in the Claxton community during the month of October.

Working with the Claxton Volunteer Fire Department for the last 19 years, Deputy Chief James Kolopus said he hasn’t seen that many fires happen so close together in a very long time, if ever.

“The last several years, we have had very few structure fires. We’ve average three or four fires a year for the last several years,” Kolopus said.

Three of the four fires happened in the Ben’s Mobile Home Park.

Kolopus said that in contrast to the rumors on social media, two of the fires were accidental and the location was purely coincidental. He said the most recent fire on Duke Lane was still under investigation, but wasn’t believed to be suspicious.

Kolopus said all fires with known causes could’ve been prevented.

“Causes range from falling asleep with a lit cigarette, to unattended candles, to an electrical malfunction,” Kolopus said.

Kolopus said it’s important to never walk away from a heat source.

The first fire was in the mobile home park and was caused by someone falling asleep with a lit cigarette.

The second fire was off of Moccosain Hollow Lane and caused by a candle.

“The one candle broke and fell onto the living room couch and set the living room on fire. That fire was contained to the living room, but the house did suffer extensive smoke and heat damage,” Kolopus said.

The third fire was in the mobile home park and started after a faulty plug strip.

“The resident was watching television and noticed smoke coming from the electrical outlet and the fire was started with a malfunction in the plug strip,” Kolopus said.

Kolopus said that kind of electrical fire could be avoided several different ways, and this day and age with so much technology, it’s important to know what not to do.

“There never seems to be enough outlets and plugs strips, when used properly can be used safely, but it’s important you periodically inspect them to make sure that the wires are not frayed. Don’t overload them,” Kolopus said.

He said also periodically clean dirt or dust out from plug strips.

Kolopus said people also need to be careful with overcharging their devices.

“People will leave their phone sitting on the couch, on the bed, and when the batteries become overcharged, they can overheat and ignite. So, whenever you’re not charging your device, unplug the charger. It’s cheap insurance,” Kolopus said.

He said fires started by candles can be prevented as well.

Some might think glass candles can be left unattended for a little bit, but Kolopus said that is not the case.

“Those candles when they’re allowed to burn down, the glass can heat up and expand and crack. And in this case, we believe that the glass cracked, and when it cracked, it knocked the candle over onto the couch and that was the cause of the fire,” Kolopus said.

He said the same goes for wax warmers.

Kolopus had two other important messages about fire safety:

  • Have a working smoke alarm
  • Have an escape plan

“They were fortunate to get out safely, and fortunately they were there at the time of the fire. The fourth fire, the home was unoccupied at the time, which is why it’s still under investigation,” Kolopus said.

No one was hurt in any of the recent fires.

Kolopus said the last fire in the mobile home park is still being investigated by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

How you can volunteer

He wanted to remind the community that CVFD is made up of only 11 volunteers, so responding to four fires within a 10-day span takes a toll.

Volunteering for the fire department is a second job, and Kolopus said they always need more volunteers so they can respond faster and don’t burn out so quickly.

He said not everyone who volunteers for the fire department has to actually battle fires.

If you want to learn more about volunteering for the CVFD, you can visit their website here and download the application, or give the department a call.

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