By Senior Airman Kaylee Clark
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
As the holiday hustle and bustle nears a fever pitch, two Little Rock Air Force base families who lost their homes and personal possessions in a duplex fire Sept. 17 are simply thankful to have a place to sit back, relax and enjoy what the festive season brings.
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.
Though the fire, which was classified as a cooking fire, completely damaged both houses, no one was injured.
Beginning in the kitchen, the fire eventually spread throughout the entire home at 126 Pennsylvania Ave., as well as the neighboring home, 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 base housing.
“We were in a new house on base two days later,” said Airman 1st Class Jason Clark, a 19th Component Maintenance Squadron aircraft hydraulic systems journeyman.
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.
The Airmen and their familes received an abundance of donations, so much in fact, they gave some to the Airman’s Attic and Goodwill.
More than $2,000 was raised for both families that were involved in the incident.
“The first sergeants helped us out a lot,” said Clark. “They provided us with new uniforms for work. We received kitchen supplies, baby clothes and gift cards. It was nice to have supporting Airmen from my squadron helping us in a time like this.”
Disasters are never planned, but Airmen should be prepared by having an emergency savings plan and a solid evacuation plan.
“We are still overwhelmed from the whole situation; you never expect something like this to happen,” said Clark.
If an Airman is ever in a similar situation, one of the first steps they can take is contacting their first sergeant.
Master Sgt. Rodney Kizzia, the 19th Component Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, said, “there are a lot of agencies willing to help; if you don’t know what is available to you, go to your first sergeant.”
Don’t forget during the holidays to use safety while preparing all of your holiday meals.
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.
Third, call 911 as quickly as possible.