courtesy photo/ Eleven Point Fire DepartmentHowell County News/ Ron Mendezcourtesy photo/Willow Springs Fire Department

Camper Fire North of Willow Springs

The Latest Structure Fire in a Busy Month for Area Fire Departments
In the early morning hours of January 17, Willow Springs Fire Department responded to their tenth call for service in the last 30 days. This time, the emergency was a structure fire on Private Road 1296 outside Willow Springs. A recreational vehicle caught fire due to electrical issues. Because the call was for a structure fire, both Willow Springs and Eleven Point Rural Fire Departments responded, arriving on scene in time to save the camper and all the belongings inside. There were no injuries to either civilians or firefighters. 
According to Vance Farmer, Assistant Fire Chief of WSFD, the owners of the camper were using it as a permanent residence and had wired it for electricity to a utility pole using a residential breaker box. The breaker box was housed in an exterior compartment located directly underneath the residence’s bathtub. 
“It was apparent that the plumbing from the tub had been leaking and allowing water to drip into the storage bin, ultimately allowing water into the breaker box, causing it to short out,” said Asst. Chief Farmer in an interview. 
Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire after cutting off the power supply to the camper and using a "dry-chem" fire extinguisher.
Ten days prior, WSFD responded to the neighboring residence on the private road for a flue fire. 
“The majority of our fire calls this season have been flue [or] chimney fires due to dirty or plugged chimneys. We have been lucky to save all the homes with flu fires in our district with minimal damage,” commented Asst. Chief Farmer. 
“We have been recommending homeowners to use licensed, reputable chimney sweep companies to inspect and clean their flu/chimney to ensure safe use of their wood stoves or fireplace,” he suggested.
Fire Safety Tips for Cold Weather
When harsh winter weather sets in, area fire departments tend to see a dramatic uptick in calls for service when we all begin to use indoor heating devices like fireplaces, woodburning stoves, and space heaters. 
Asst. Chief Farmer told Howell County News that many of their calls for service have been prompted by heat lamps used as supplemental heat for outdoor animal shelters.
“Typically this time of year, [indoor] space heaters are a major concern as well. Our tips for safely using those devices would be to ensure at least three feet of clearance around the heater with no flammable/combustible material nearby,” suggests Asst. Chief Farmer, “Make sure the heater is on a hard flat surface and not placed on carpet or stand that may pose a fire hazard. And the most important tip of all would be to plug these devices directly into a wall outlet and never into an extension cord or power strip. The fires from these devices are usually caused by the heater being too close to bedding material or by the extension cords and power strips getting hot and shorting out.”
Another important tip, especially for the many new arrivals to the area, is to ensure that your street address is clearly visible from the road.
Referring to the camper fire on Sunday morning, Asst. Chief Farmer said, “even though we were quick to get on scene to this fire and save everything, we were actually held up for a couple extra minutes because there wasn't a numbered mailbox or sign at the barely visible driveway to this residence...I advised the resident to consider installing a numbered sign at the end of her driveway to make it easier for EMS personnel to find her in the future.”
“This is also a major issue for us in the rural areas and especially where multiple ‘off the grid’ homesteaders reside far back in the forest well off the marked roads,” Asst Chief Farmer concluded.

Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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