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Firefighters battle structure and outside fires across Lexington County Wednesday afternoon

Lexington County, SC 01/12/2022 (Paul Kirby) – Firefighters from various parts of Lexington County battled several structure and outside fires Wednesday afternoon. These fires were as far south as Gaston and Swansea, east in the City of West Columbia, in the central portion of the county around Lexington and Red Bank, and west near the towns of Gilbert and Summit, and close to Lake Murray north of Hwy 378.

Crews from Sharpe’s Hill, Swansea, Gaston, and other south region stations fought a mobile home fire off Graball Road near Fallaw Road just after noon. The fire was first reported as a deck fire, but as crews were enroute and more information was being relayed to the county’s 911 Center, it became apparent that the fire was burning the grass around the home, the deck, and parts of the home as well. First crews on scene quickly assessed the situation and designated this as a working structure fire.

Some of the first due crews began stretching their hoses to attack the fire while other teams began a primary search to ensure no one was trapped by the fire in the home. Because of a significant language barrier, the first responders weren’t able to determine from the home’s occupant if everyone had escaped. Eventually, someone who could interpret arrived and the crews were able to learn from their search and the occupant that all people and pets had escaped from the burning home.

Water for this fire was carried in by tankers due to a lack of fire hydrants in the vicinity. This requires extra manpower to drive and operate the tanker trucks. Despite all challenges, the fire was extinguished in timely manner. The American Red Cross was called to assist the home’s occupants who were displaced as a result of this blaze.

As fire crews were still on the scene of the mobile home fire, an outbuilding fire was reported on Hoover Street in the City of West Columbia. This is within a block of the West Columbia Fire Department.

In what seemed like seconds, crews were on this fire stretching hoses and making their attack. Because the fully involved outbuilding was burning in the yard of a home, a team was assigned to protect the house that was already being affected by the radiated heat.

Crews on this fire entered the home to check for anyone who might have been trapped. They were also looking to ensure that fire hadn’t extended into the house. In just a short time, this fire was brought under control, and it had been determined that everyone was safe.

Just a short time later, a fast-moving grass fire was reported on Quigley Court in the Crestridge neighborhood off Nazareth Road in the Red Bank area. Fire crews arrived and found this fire running across property lines from yard to yard. These fires are often difficult to fight because fences can impede firefighters’ ability to get their hoses in front of the moving groundcover fire. It took several additional trucks and crews moving onto adjacent streets to bring this fire under control and put it out.

This incident was followed by another outside fire off Chippewa Trail just south of the Town of Summit. Firefighters from the county and the Town of Batesburg-Leeville responded to this. They were able to quickly get this fire under control but spent time and resources making sure it was completely out before they left.

Later, there was another outside fire off Swygert Landing Road near Lake Murray in the Hollow Creek area off US Hwy 378. Again, county resources were dedicated to this fire and crews had to aggressively attack to bring it under control.

During cold snaps, the danger of weather-related fires greatly increases in Lexington County. Cold fronts usually include extremely low humidity and gusting winds. This raises the probability that any outdoor burning could quickly get out of control.

Outbuilding fires also seem to increase during extremely cold weather. People often press into service heating devices that aren’t meant to be used in a combustible environment like a small, older shed or a building use to store cardboard boxes, old clothing, lawn equipment, and other such items. Space heaters need at least 36” of clear space around them to operate safely. Even heat lamps that are used to help outdoor pets stay warm can cause fires if they come into contact with combustibles like old newspapers, rags, straw and hay, or any other flammable bedding.

Weather forecast for our area predict snow and sleet with blustery winds over the weekend. Please us extreme caution and follow all the manufacturers instructions if supplemental heat is necessary. If you absolutely have to use supplemental heating that relies on an open flame, read all warning labels carefully. Also, buy and use a carbon monoxide detector as well as your home’s smoke detectors. These just may save your life or the lives of someone you love.

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