By Ethan Colbert
The nature of the two fires, which occurred on Thursday and Friday at a home near St. Clement, are not suspicious according to Bowling Green Rural Fire Department Chief Adam Mitalovich.
According to Mitalovich, the local fire department was paged at 4:03 a.m. on Thursday to a home on Hwy. 161 south of Bowling Green. The fire department would later be paged to the same home on Friday morning.
In a telephone interview, Mitalovich said that firemen arrived 4:22 a.m. and found a fire had broken out in the attic of the home.
“It is no excuse, but the cold temperatures of Thursday morning was a contributing factor to our response time,” Mitalovich said. The fire chief said that the rural fire department is staffed by volunteer firemen, who along with many others in the community found the icy and cold conditions of early Thursday morning particularly treacherous.
“While we didn’t have any major injuries, the icy conditions did make it treacherous for our firemen,” Mitalovich said. According to the fire chief, numerous firemen slipped and fell while responding to the fire.
The residents of the home, who have been identified as Gary and Ginny Alderson, were home at the time of the fire on Thursday and were able to escape the home without incident.
Assisting the local rural fire department with extinguishing the fire on Thursday were firemen from Buffalo Township Fire Department.
Firemen left the scene on Thursday around 8:30 a.m.
Later in the day on Thursday, representatives of the state fire marshal did investigate the scene and Mitalovich said that they found “nothing suspicious.”
A little more than 24 hours later, the fire department was paged back to the house after an insurance adjustor called 911 to report that a fire had been discovered in the home.
When firemen arrived at 9:56 a.m., Mitalovich said they found heavy smoke pouring from all parts of the house.
The local fire chief said he couldn’t speculate as to how long the fire had been burning.
“It had been burning for a while, let’s just say that,” Mitalovich said.
While Thursday’s fire had focused in the area in and around the home’s chimney and fireplace, Friday’s fire was located primarily in the garage and the center of the house.
Helping the local fire department combat Friday’s fire were personnel from the Eolia Fire Protection District and the Buffalo Township Fire Department.
In his interview, Mitalovich said that it is plausible that both Thursday’s fire and Friday’s fire were electrical fires and that the fire rekindled overnight.
“Other sources for the fire’s cause can’t be ruled out, but the keys certainly look like this was an electrical fire,” Mitalovich said.
The fire marshal has been notified of Friday’s fire but is not expected to return to the scene, according to Mitalovich.
As area residents continue to battle cold temperatures, Mitalovich said he would like to remind everyone to be “cautious of using space heaters to heat your home and to follow the instructions detailed on the manufacturer’s label.”
“I understand that space heaters physically produce heat, but sometimes reducing airflow and gaps underneath doors or windows can be more effective in heating your home than buying another space heater,” Mitalovich said.
He also reminded those who use wood burning stoves to ensure that the chimney is cleaned regularly by a certified individual.