By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
An extension cord attached to a space heater is being cited as the most likely source of a fire that broke out around mid-morning last Friday, February 4, and destroyed an Atmore home.
Atmore Fire Department reports show that city firefighters were dispatched at 9:53 a.m. to 511 5th Avenue, where the residential structure was ablaze.
The home, in which Linda Mills lived with several feline friends, was “totally engulfed” in flames and enveloped in thick smoke when firefighters arrived four minutes after the call went out.
Fire Chief Ron Peebles said he called for assistance from Poarch Fire Department and paged all off-duty AFD personnel and volunteer firemen to the scene. The firefighting force fought the flames for nearly 90 minutes before bringing them under control.
Peebles said firefighters “held the fire to the front room,” where it began, but reported there was also “heavy smoke damage to the back side” of the home’s interior, as well as water damage, making it a total loss.
“We’re pretty sure it was a space heater issues,” said Peebles. “The homeowner was at an exercise class, and she said she remembers turning the heater off before she left home. It looks like the extension cord got pinched somehow and shorted out.”
The fire chief said the entire clowder of cats made it out of the burning home.
“(Ms. Mills) asked me if her cats were all right,” he said. “I told her the last time I saw them they were heading north, just as hard as they could go.”
A neighbor reportedly provided a place for Ms. Mills to sleep Friday night, and local Red Cross officials are helping her with recovery from the fire.