By Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Two Team Little Rock Families lost their homes and personal possessions when a fire broke out in a residential duplex in base housing Sept. 7, 2013, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.
Nobody was injured in the fire, which was classified as a cooking fire by base officials.
Beginning in the kitchen, the fire eventually spread throughout the entire home at 126 Pennsylvania Ave., as well as the neighboring home at 124 Pennsylvania Ave., consuming most of the former and rendering the latter uninhabitable.
The families were forced to vacate the duplex, but were quickly provided new homes from Little Rock Family Housing.
While the two families have been provided new homes, they lost a considerable amount of personal goods in the fire. Team Little Rock responded by setting up a drive to donate necessary items to the families.
To donate call Master Sgt. Rodney Kizzia, 19th Component Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, at 987-7327 or Senior Master Sgt. Troy Trevino, 19th Equipment Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, at 987-7166 or visit the 19th CMS’s sharepoint site at https://eim.amc.af.mil/org/19cms/default.aspx.
The outpouring of support from base agencies, as well as fellow Airmen, was praised by Maj. Maria Moss, 19th CMS commander.
“In less than four hours, the (families) received medical care, a safe place to keep their pets, basic toiletries, clothing, a home cooked meal and a safe place to sleep, all while first responders worked tirelessly to put out the fire and keep the community safe,” she said. “Less than 24 hours after the fire began, the (families) selected their new residence, found basic necessities in the Airman’s Attic and were well on their way to rebuilding their lives. Every facet of our community responded quickly and effectively to the needs of the families and I could not be moreproud of being an Airman.”
When alerted to the crisis, the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department responded, but was unable to salvage the house because of how rapidly the fire spread; however, the firefighters stayed on the scene to contain the flames, ensuring they didn’t spread.
According to Don Smart, 19th CES fire chief, the fire was one of 24 in base housing during the last five years, 12 of which have been cooking related.
While this incident was cooking related too, it was the first one in 10 years to not be classified as an unattended-cooking fire, which is the leading cause of fires in base housing, said Smart.
“Unattended cooking is, by far, the number one cause of fires in our housing area,” said Smart. “The good news is that the trend has been dropping over the last 10 years, but we are still experiencing at least two unattended cooking fires a year; and two is way too many.o
Most cooking-related fires on base originate from grease, said Smart. Everyone should be vigilant of safety concerns while cooking, but in the event of encountering a cooking-related fire, there are some steps to follow.
First, turn the stove or burner off and place a well-fitting lid on the pan or container used for cooking.
Second, never try to move a container, pan or receptacle that’s on fire. Smart said the most likely scenario that occurs when a person moves a pan or container on fire is the container spilling and spreading the fire.
Third, call 911 as quickly as possible.
“National statistics prove that we only have a few moments to begin extinguishment or total destruction is likely,” he said. “Every minute delayed in reporting exponentially decreases the fire department’s chances of saving people or property.”