MONROE, CT — Electrical and cooking hazards, improper disposal of fireworks and the build up of lint in a dryer played roles in starting fires in people’s homes over the past few weeks, according to Monroe Fire Chief Kevin Catalano.
Volunteer firefighters from the Monroe, Stepney and Stevenson companies responded to five house fires in the last five weeks.
“It’s an unusual volume of house fires in a short period of time for the town of Monroe, but each cause was unique,” he said. “We are very fortunate that no one was seriously injured in any of these fires and that each home is repairable.”
Catalano said the fires had a variety of causes and each one was quickly contained to the initial room of origin, saving the structures. Though there were no serious injuries, he said three residents were treated for smoke inhalation on scene.
Smoke alarms played a role in residents getting outside to safety, while enabling firefighters to respond quickly to saved the houses from further damage, according to Catalano, who said smoke alarms were present and sounded in all but one of the homes.
During each incident, dispatchers, Monroe, Stepney and Stevenson volunteer firefighters, the Monroe Volunteer Emergency Medical Service, police and fire marshals coordinated their efforts to ensure the safety of the occupants and firefighters working on scene, Catalano said.
“I was on scene at each of these fires and am very pleased with the tremendous effort and performance of our volunteer firefighters,” he said. “They have done an outstanding job in difficult and stressful situations and worked hard to save these homes. The time they spend training and preparing, including maintaining our fire trucks and equipment is very evident.”
“We appreciate the assistance received at some of these fires from our mutual aid partners from the Long Hill, White Hills and Huntington volunteer fire departments, who provided support either on scene or covered the Monroe Fire Department headquarters in the event of other calls in Monroe,” Catalano added.
Fire calls included:
Walnut Street: A kitchen fire due to cooking, which was contained to the kitchen. One resident was treated for smoke inhalation and the family was temporarily displaced due to fire and smoke damage.
Stonecroft Way: A fire in an attached garage due to discarded fireworks, contained to the garage. The family was allowed to return to their home that evening.
Ryegate Terrace: A fire in the dining room due to combustibles stored too close to an electric heater. This fire was contained to the dining area, but was the most damaging of the recent fires due to fire damage and extensive smoke damage. The family was temporarily displaced.
Lynn Drive: A laundry room fire due to lint build up in dryer and exhaust hose, fire damage limited to laundry room. Two residents were evaluated for smoke inhalation. The family was temporarily displaced with short term housing.
Jockey Hollow Road: A kitchen fire due to improper use of an extension cord powering a large appliance. The fire was contained to the kitchen. A disabled resident was carried to safety by first responders. The family was temporarily displaced with short term housing.
During this five week period, town firefighters responded to over 60 other calls, including a brush fire caused by discarded fireplace ashes on Old Zoar Road, which threatened to spread to a garage. However, it was extinguished before any structures were involved, according to Catalano.
Fire Safety Reminders
Winter months are always the busiest for house fires given use of heating sources, increased cooking with the holidays including distracted cooking, and increased usage of candles and extension cords.
- Don’t leave stovetop cooking unattended
- Have furnaces and chimneys regularly cleaned and inspected
- Don’t store combustibles close to heating sources
- Clean lint from clothes dryers, exhaust hose and vent
- Don’t use extension cords for permanent uses, and use according to manufacturer’s guidance
- Ensure working smoke alarms on each floor and inside each bedroom
- Call 911 timely and try to stay calm to describe the situation
- Reduce clutter and keep hallways, stairs and exit areas clear to facilitate evacuation
- Evacuate immediately and do not re-enter
- Preplan two escape routes
- Have a designated family meeting spot outside to account for all family members.
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