An explosion that caused a fire in a van parked on the carport of a home resulted in the loss of a Cherokee Village home and vehicle Aug. 7.
Owner Hannah Eisenberg said that she just got out of the shower when she had heard a loud sound similar to a gun shot. She said a few minutes later she heard another loud explosion and discovered her vehicle on fire. She then called 9-1-1 to report the fire. The fire quickly spread to her home where Eisenberg escaped with only the clothes she had on. Sadly, she also lost her two beloved cats in the fire.
Cherokee Village Fire Chief Mike Taylor provided the reports from the incident, which was investigated by arson investigator Lt. Russell Tanner. Tanner's conclusion was that the vehicle was the origin of the fire. His report states the probable cause of the fire was a result of towels with warm grease in them and spilled bleach causing a chemical reaction within the vehicle. His report says, this, coupled with the heat buildup and open door of the vehicle caused an explosion and the heat caused more vapors to cause another explosion.
The fire has been the topic of many rumors in the area from local residents, including the prospect of the negligence on the part of the city of Cherokee Village in regard to the lack of pressure at the hydrant and slow response time by the Cherokee Village Fire Department to the incident.
When questioned at the recent Cherokee Village City Council meeting by Alderman Ray Torbit about the fire, Cherokee Village Fire Chief Mike Taylor said all hydrants in the city are tested by the water department and the results of these tests are available, with dates at the water department. He also added, "I have worked for the fire department for 32 plus years and I have never hooked to a hydrant in Cherokee Village and failed to get water." He said the hydrant was 400 feet from the home, as well as providing documentation to the Villager Journal regarding the location. Taylor said both Omaha and Onaga stations responded to the initial call of a vehicle fire. He said that when the firefighters were on the way to the blaze, one of the fireman from Engine Three saw the smoke and reported it as a structure fire. According to the 9-1-1 call sheets, the department responded to the incident in nine minutes. Taylor said 13 firefighters responded to the fire and prevented the burning of two homes which sit in close proximity to the home, which was located on Caclan Trace in Cherokee Village.
Hobie Weisman, a former fireman who attended the recent council meeting offered praise to the chief and fire department for their efforts in protecting the other homes.
Eisenberg, who recently moved to the area from California, said she was lucky to be alive and was very gracious to her water aerobics group and employees for the support they have given her since the incident in which she lost everything she owned. Eisenberg is the owner of the Clubhouse on the Green Restaurant in Cherokee Village.
The investigation of the explosion is being continued by Shelter Insurance. Eisenberg maintains that the towels in her vehicle were clean and said that she only uses soy oil at the restaurant. She explained that this type of oil is not flammable.