Fires damage homes in county

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Two fires over the weekend kept firefighters busy in River Falls and Opp. A fire Saturday night at the residence of Stephen and Lisa Ward in River Falls left the couple and their five children temporarily homeless.

"It was around 9:30," said Jeff Holland, assistant fire chief for Andalusia and Police Chief of River Falls. "It had considerable damage, but it was not a total loss. We pretty much kept the fire contained to the two bedroom areas. The rest of the house had heat and smoke damage."

The fire is still under investigation, but Holland said they believed the cause to be electrical. He said the family lost clothing and belongings. he said no one was at home at the time of the fire, which was discovered by a friend of the family's.

According to W.B. Stewart, the Covington County Chapter of the American Red Cross was able to help the family with immediate needs for clothing and food, including the children, a 4-year-old boy, a 5-year-old girl, a 7-year-old girl, and 8-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.

"Our after-hours caseworker did the work," said Stewart. "We did not have to find housing because they stayed with family."

A light socket may have lead to a house fire in Opp, according to Captain Greg Taylor of the Opp Fire Department.

"There was a light socket in the closet and some clothes fell down on top of it," said Taylor. "The fire was contained there and we blew the smoke out of the house. There was no other damage."

The fire was called in at 11:59 Sunday morning and the firefighters were back at the station by 12:25 p.m.

Taylor said similar blazes can be prevented by making sure the light bulb is the proper wattage for the socket, and by keeping clothing, drapes, paper and other materials away from sockets.