Fire in Fulton leaves resident, firefighters injured

Friday, February 29, 2008 | 4:04 p.m. CST; updated 2:13 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Fulton woman and three firefighters suffered injuries this morning in a fire at a Fulton residence, according to the Fulton Fire Department.

Firefighters responded to the fire at 404 Northwest St. at 12:12 a.m., when the resident was still inside while flames burned on the back porch and black smoke billowed out of the front of the house.

According to Fulton Fire Department Capt. Jim Elkthunder, a passerby heard the resident’s dog barking from her house and went to investigate, which is when he saw smoke and flames. He then called 911, and three fire engines, a rescue squad and a ladder truck were on the scene in about two minutes, Elkthunder said.

Two firefighters entered the home to rescue the resident when the first floor suddenly “flashed over,” an infrequent event in which a room’s furnishings and contents reach their ignition temperature and the room bursts into flames after being exposed to oxygen, Elkthunder said.

“Certain conditions have to be met,” he said. “In this case, the house was older and had a lot of combustible materials, such as furnishings and wall coverings.”

The “flashover” trapped the resident and the two firefighters inside, and two Fulton police officers aided in their rescue, Elkthunder said.

“The firefighters lifted (the resident) up and the police helped pull her through the window and onto the front porch,” Elkthunder said. The two firefighters and the resident’s dog were also rescued.

The victim, whose identity firefighters and police have not yet been able to ascertain, suffered burns to over 50 percent of her body, Elkthunder said. She was airlifted to University Hospital Burn Center in Columbia and is in critical condition as of this afternoon.

The two firefighters involved in pulling the resident out of the house were also injured. One suffered second-degree burns to his face, neck and back and was treated at University Hospital. The other firefighter sprained his ankle and was treated at Callaway Community Hospital in Fulton.

A third firefighter and two police officers were treated for smoke inhalation, Elkthunder said.

After the three firefighters were injured, Elkthunder said, the other Fulton firefighters at the scene called the Central Callaway Fire Protection District for backup. Callaway firefighters arrived with one fire engine and one pumper tanker to help extinguish the fire.

It took about 45 minutes to get the fire under control and almost an hour to fully extinguish it, Elkthunder said. Firefighters remained until just before daybreak.

“We were there until 6 this morning checking for fire extensions in the attic and walls, cleaning up and starting the investigation,” Elkthunder said.

As of this afternoon, the cause of the fire is unknown. Elkthunder said that it started in a trash can in the kitchen and that arson is not suspected.

Damage from the fire is estimated to be $60,000. The resident was renting the house, and it is unknown if she had renters insurance. Elkthunder also said there were no working smoke alarms in the home.

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