A Roswell apartment was destroyed by fire Nov. 21 when a candle lit materials on fire. Fire officials caution residents to be careful with open flames during the winter months. HATCHER HURD. (click for larger version)
Tom Kohl, a neighbor living downstairs, inspects the damage down to the upper front apartment 1707 at Seven Pines apartment community. HATCHER HURD. (click for larger version)
November 28, 2012ROSWELL, Ga.— Two families were homeless on Thanksgiving Day, nevertheless they had a lot to be thankful for. A Roswell family received an emergency wakeup call around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, when a fire swept through their Seven Pines Apartments home near Holcomb Bridge Road.
Everyone made it out of the building safely, but the upstairs unit which caught fire and the downstairs unit which suffered a lot of water damage were left uninhabitable.
According to Roswell Fire Department Fire Marshal Paul Piccirilli, the fire began because of a candle.
"The resident was using candles to illuminate her home," Piccirilli said. "One of those candles was in a closet in the bathroom and caught some material on fire."
Thankfully, the woman living there discovered the fire had begun and was able to quickly call 911, he said. Emergency crews arrived within minutes and managed to extinguish the fire before it spread to other apartments.
"They did a great job," Piccirilli said. "The contained it to the apartment and put it out quickly."
Tom Kohl, a neighbor downstairs, said the woman pounded on his door and the others in building to warn them of the danger before fire engines arrived.
"The fire department got here very quickly. We were thankful for that," Kohl said. "But the lady upstairs made sure we were all awake. We got the dog out. Everybody got out."
The fire damage was restricted mostly to the closet and bathroom, Picccirilli said, and the apartment itself suffered water damage from the hoses. Piccirilli said the damage was less than it could have been if the resident had not seen the fire start.
"If she had gone to bed it could have been a much diff outcome," he said.
The resident told officials on the scene she was using candles to light the home because she did not have power. Piccirilli said seven people in all were displaced from the apartment building. The Red Cross is helping them.
Managing Editor, Appen Newspapers Inc.
Winter months see many house fires start: Unattended cooking most often culprit
More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day than at any other time of the year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
"The No. 1 cause of fire is unattended cooking," said Roswell Fire Marshal Paul Piccirilli said. "Never leave cooking unattended."
Those types of fires are followed closely by flammable items placed near an open flame.
Fried turkeys have become a holiday favorite, but special precautions should be taken for large turkey fryers, which must always be employed outdoors and away from any flammable material. Increasing numbers of household fires result from this new style of holiday cooking.
"In the hustle and bustle of family gatherings, please do not leave food unattended on the stove or in the oven," said Milton Fire Marshal Matt Marietta. "And in case of an accident, always keep an appropriate kitchen fire extinguisher handy."
As the temperature drops and residents start cozying up to a roaring fire, remember to remove all combustibles from the fireplace hearth.
Additionally, if you haven't done so recently, have a professional chimney sweep inspect and clean the fireplace flue. According to Marietta, North Fulton's cities have had several house fires in the past few years due to improper maintenance of fireplaces.
"A lot of people don't realize the importance of keeping a fireplace clean and in good working order," he said. "In some cases where maintenance is not current, fires can start in the chimney and spread to the house before a homeowner is even aware there is a problem."