L-N Photo by Melony Overton

Smothering The Flames

El Campo Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Kevin Bubela, left, and Chief Jimmy George Jr., right, look on as a firefighter uses the department’s Compressed Air Foam System or CAFS to smother flames at the house fire on CR 306. The occupants were able to get out safely before the fire spread.

Two home fires in rural West Wharton County Wednesday left families wondering what, if anything, could be salvaged from their lives.

No one was hurt in either blaze, however, although the back-to-back calls put a strain on firefighting volunteers.

“The El Campo Volunteer Fire Department has not responded to two structure fires in one day in a very long time,” Fire Chief Jimmy George Jr. said. “The firefighters did an outstanding job working at both of these fires. We had no firefighter and civilian injuries. We also had great help from El Campo EMS. At both fires, they provided rehab, water and checked the firefighters to make sure there were no problems.”

Mobile Home Ablaze On FM 1160

Christian David and his wife Lorene had only been away from their 9137 FM 1160 mobile home about a half hour when they received word that a fire had broke out.

“I was on my way to the dentist,” Lorene David said, adding she and her husband were running a few errands first. “We had only been gone 20, maybe 30 minutes.”

The alarm sounded at 9:28 a.m. when a passing motorists noticed the problem.

“It was already through the window when I got here,” George said.

With all windows and doors closed, the fire had been denied air until it broached the window, keeping the skin of the trailer intact.

With the department’s Compressed Air Foam System or CAFS, crews were able to quickly smother the air-starved blaze. It was reported under control by 9:51 a.m.

“There is fire damage on the right side of the trailer and smoke damage throughout,” George said, adding the main damage was contained to the living room, bathroom and one bedroom. “But it’s probably considered totaled,” he said.

With the bulk of the damage concentrated in the bedroom, firefighters started looking there for a possible cause.

“After investigation, the possible cause of the fire was heat or sparks from an electrical hospital type of bed in the bedroom,” George said. “We couldn’t find anything else that it could be.”

The Red Cross was contacted to give assistance to the Davids, who say their home is insured.

ECVFD sent six units and 13 firefighters and Louise VFD sent one truck and three firefighters.

They remained on scene until 10:54 a.m.

A small re-kindle at the scene prompted the department to return at 1:42 p.m.

“It was extinguished quickly with one truck,” George said.

The Wharton County Central Appraisal District lists the land as being owned by the G.H. Harfst Jr. Trust. The Davids say they own their 1991 trailer, however.

CR 306 home aflame Wednesday

The alarm sounded on the second structure fire, a single family, wood frame house, at 3:20 p.m. at 433 CR 306 (Murry Road).

Homeowner Annette Welcome was on the phone when she noticed flames coming from her front bedroom. She alerted her adult son Corey Williams, who was in the shower. Both left the home unharmed, with Williams wearing only a towel.

Upon arrival, ECVFD found fire coming out of a window on the front side of the house.

Firefighters attacked the fire initially from the outside through the window to knock down the fire, then entered the front door and extinguished the fire in the room. The fire extended into the attic and vented through the roof.

Firefighters were able to douse the attic and control the fire by 3:47 p.m.

“Firefighters started overhaul operations to make sure the fire was completely extinguished. This operation took some time to complete. When overhaul was completed, all units were released back to service at 5:28 p.m.,” George said.

ECVFD sent seven units and 21 firefighters to the scene and Louise Volunteer Fire Department sent one unit and two firefighters.

“After investigation, the possible cause of the fire was clothing getting tangled in a box fan in the room of origin. Again the Red Cross was contacted to give assistance to the occupants,” George said.

Welcome said she has lived in the home since 1990.

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