Fires destroy home, damage community store

Thursday, May 8, 2003

A father escaped with his two children from a burning single-wide mobile home May 4 in Morriston.

Johnny Thomas woke up at 4 a.m. after a smoke detector alerted him of a fire in the home. Thomas discovered the fire was coming from the bathroom/laundry room so he kicked the door in, said Morriston Fire Chief Scott Holloway. As soon as the door was opened smoke started rolling out so he grabbed his children, Katie, 5, and Shawn, 2, and fled the premises.

Holloway said the home was fully engulfed in flames when the fire department arrived. Smoke alarms were placed throughout the mobile home, which probably saved the family, Holloway said.

Agnos-Glencoe-Heart Volunteer Fire Department and Salem Fire Department also assisted with containing the flames. Holloway said firemen secured the premises to keep the fire from spreading, but the home was a total loss. Firemen used 10,500 gallons of water between the three departments.

The cause of the fire was determined to be electrical, Holloway said. The carport was destroyed but Thomas was able to save the Ford utility truck that was parked underneath.

The Thomas Family Fund has been set up to help the family because they lost everything in the blaze. Holloway said the family is in dire need of clothing and household goods. He added the fire department would pick up the items from donors. "I would like to try and get these folks back on their feet," Holloway said.

The two children are staying with relatives in Jonesboro but Holloway said he didn't know where Thomas and his wife, Teresa, who was at work at the time of the fire, were staying.

Holloway said those who wish to donate can contact the fire department at 870-895-4069 or send donations to Morrison Fire Department, Country View Road, Salem, AR 72576.

The fire chief said he would also contact Red Cross this week to try to get assistance for the family.

A second fire caused extensive damage at R & B Quick Stop in Camp after a kitchen fire May 4 in the 1,500-square-foot building.

Camp Fire Chief Rayvon Romine said the Fulton County Sheriff's Office received a phone call from a motorist who spotted smoke coming from the store that evening. The sheriff's office paged Camp Fire Department to the scene at 5:36 p.m.

Romine said when he arrived the smoke was so thick firemen couldn't see the flames. The windows were blackened from smoke and heat. "It was solid smoke," Romine said.

Firefighters opened the front and back doors before they began to extinguish the flames. After the flames were contained, firefighters set vent fans at both exits to start the cooling process, Romine said. The chief said firemen used approximately 500 gallons of water to extinguish the fire. Salem Fire Department also assisted with the fire.

Firemen checked all the closets to make sure the flames were extinguished, Romine said.

Romine said he thinks the fire started in the kitchen around the grill and deep fryer.

The owners, Brenda and Rodney Sutherland, had left the premises two hours prior to the fire, so the facility was vacant at the time of the blaze.

He said Mrs. Sutherland told him she remembered turning off the grill before leaving the building.

Romine said a lot of customers frequented the store because it was so handy for the community.

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