Pets perish as fire destroys McRae Street home

The Skipper’s home on McRae Street

News Staff Writer

A McRae Street home was destroyed and several pets inside perished when an Oct. 29 fire that started in the home’s kitchen burned through the roof and spread throughout the dwelling.
Atmore Fire Chief Ron Peebles said two AFD fire engines and 10 firefighters were dispatched to the scene around 5:59 p.m. after a passerby saw smoke and flames coming from the brick home, which is owned by John and Dawn Skipper.
“The owners weren’t home when the fire broke out,” Peebles said. “Somebody passing by saw the fire and called it in. There were six pets — two dogs and four cats — inside. We were prepared to try and resuscitate them.”
Firefighters determined that the destructive blaze started when an electrical short occurred in the vent hood above the stove. He said AFD personnel arrived to find flames coming from the center of the roof, an occurrence he said was out of the ordinary.
“Our guys made a good stop on it and were able to salvage some of the family’s personal belongings out of it,” he said. “This was an unusual fire. It had already vented itself by burning through the roof. Usually when a fire gets into the attic, it runs sideways. This one went straight up and out the roof above where it started.”
Peebles pointed out that the unusual fire pattern helped firefighters gain quicker control of the flames.
“The fact that it burned straight up through the roof was good on our part,” the fire chief said. “That releases some of the heat and eliminates the spread effect, so it makes it a little easier to contain. It was still a total loss, but it didn’t spread to any other structures.”
In response to an outpouring of support and questions about the fire, Dawn Skipper posted the following statement on her Facebook page: “I am THANKFUL for all my friends, family, & co-workers! Enough said!”
Nokomis home burns
Atmore firefighters assisted Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department personnel at a structure fire on James Road on Monday, November 5.
Peebles said the fire heavily damaged a brick home that had a metal roof, calling it “the worse kind of fire you can have, because the roof holds the heat in.”
The Atmore fire chief said Nokomis fire officials were the lead agency, but speculated that the home was probably a total loss.
Mobile home fire
City firemen were back in business Tuesday morning, fighting a blaze that erupted inside a Thompson Street mobile home in Atmore.
Peebles said the occupants, who were in the process of moving out of the single-wide trailer, had “gone to the store” when the flames broke out.
Damage assessments had not yet been made by Tuesday’s press deadline, but water and smoke damage appeared widespread.