Earning their pay

City firemen tackle 3 structure fires, wreck in short period

From left, a fireman attaches a new air tank to a comrade’s back while a third directs a stream of water into the Montgomery Street home.

News Staff Writer

If Atmore firefighters were looking for a break in the tedium of assisting ambulance crews and doing other mundane tasks, they got it over the past few days.
Most of the activity occurred last Friday, February 7, when AFD crews fought a destructive house fire, responded to a four-vehicle wreck and assisted with a fire in one of the county’s rural communities.
The busy Friday began with a structure fire at 320 Montgomery Street, in the city’s northeastern quadrant. Dispatchers relayed a report of the fire at 11:41 a.m., and firefighters arrived four minutes later to find the house fully engulfed in flames and a pall of thick smoke blanketing the area.
Finally, the blaze — which reportedly began in the closet of a child’s bedroom, apparently due to an electrical problem — was tamed and firefighters were able to clear the scene after a 90-minute battle that eventually included all available off-duty city firemen and a crew from Poarch Creek Indians Fire Department.
Several children were in the home when the fire broke out, and an ambulance was called to the site. But, thanks to the actions of the children’s grandmother, the medical transport wasn’t needed.
“There were several children in there, I’m not sure how many, but their grandmother got them out,” said AFD Capt. Jeremy Blackmon. “She smelled smoke, got all the kids out, then called 911.”
Krystal Dortch Wilson posted on the Atmore News Facebook page that she and her children lost all their possessions in the inferno, which made a total loss of the home. She thanked those who have provided emotional and spiritual support in the fire’s aftermath.
“Me and my family lost everything we had, from clothes down to my kids’ Christmas stuff,” Wilson wrote. “We are all okay. Thank everyone for the prayers.”
Less than two hours after leaving the Montgomery Street fire site, AFD personnel were called to the intersection of U.S. 31 and 21st Avenue, where an empty log truck had rear-ended a passenger vehicle, causing a chain reaction that damaged four vehicles.
The firemen were dispatched at 3:50 p.m., arrived three minutes later and were on the scene until 6:30 p.m. They returned to their station for some R&R, but an hour later they were out again.
City crews responded at 7:32 p.m. under a mutual aid pact to a home on Horseshoe Circle in Nokomis, where smoke was reported inside the residence. They arrived 12 minutes after dispatch to find Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department personnel already there and turned the scene over to them 19 minutes after arrival.
Finally, the city firefighters returned to a relatively quiet weekend of more lift assists and minor medical calls, but the hard-core firefighting business returned in the predawn hours of Monday, February 10.
AFD units were dispatched shortly after 3 a.m. to a car fire on Lee Street, a short thoroughfare that connects Liberty Street and Carver Avenue in the northeastern sector of the city.
Firefighters arrived three minutes later to discover that the fire had spread, and flames were consuming a nearby abandoned house. Despite a two-hour effort, the house was declared a total loss. The cause of the fire remained undetermined at Tuesday’s press deadline.
“We really earned our pay the last few days,” Blackmon said.