Columbia fire investigators plan to meet with police detectives from the Major Crimes Unit this morning to jointly investigate a fire that took place at a Columbia mobile home park early Tuesday morning.
Columbia Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said the fire, which fire investigators determined was arson, began near the front porch and moved quickly into the interior of the home at lot 171 of Pinegrove Village Mobile Home Park, 3900 Clark Lane. Firefighters battled heavy flames, which quickly weakened the floor of the structure.
Crews were able to extinguish the fire in about 15 minutes. Damage to the home was estimated at $40,000.
Sapp would not release any information about how the fire was started.
Sharon Krenson, 39, and Billie Hainds, 34, said they were asleep in the mobile home when their neighbor, Alan Rainwater, called and told them their porch was on fire. Krenson said it was Rainwater’s phone call that saved them, along with their two pets.
“I seriously doubt any of the four of us would be here,” Krenson said. “I’m truly grateful that he called us and alerted us that our porch was on fire.”
Krenson said fire officials asked her and Hainds whether they had any enemies.
“That just creeps me out,” she said. “I don’t have anyone that hates me that bad.”
Rainwater, 45, said he was awake early Tuesday with pain from a recent surgery on his shoulder. He was playing solitaire on his computer when he saw something flickering out of the corner of his eye.
When he opened his drapes, he said, he saw that most of the front porch of the mobile home was engulfed in flames. He called Krenson and Hainds and then 911.
After Rainwater convinced her that it was not a joke, Krenson said she jumped out of bed, put on her robe and ran to the front door. She grabbed a coffee pot and threw a couple pots of water on the flames.
She grabbed her cat, Sam, and her dog, Bouncer, and she and Hainds headed for the back door. Krenson said she had trouble opening the door, which normally doesn’t stick, and needed Hainds to help her push it open.
After getting their pets to safety, the two women ran back into the home to gather their cell phones, wallets and keys.
“I’ve got a cleaning service, so I started throwing my vacuum cleaners out the back door,” Krenson said. “That’s my livelihood.”
The two smoke alarms in the mobile home did not go off until fire fighters arrived, Krenson said.
Krenson was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene by paramedics. She later went to University Hospital, where she was treated and released. No one else was injured.
The occupants were able to salvage some photo albums and clothing, but Krenson said the fire gutted the home, and they will be staying with a friend. The Boone County chapter of the American Red Cross is also assisting the couple with food, shelter and clothing.
“It’s upsetting, losing all your family stuff, but we still have each other and our animals,” Krenson said. “We’re lucky to have pulled anything out of there.”
Rainwater said he did not see anyone around the fire and did not notice any vehicles driving down the road before he saw the flames. As for his lifesaving phone call, Rainwater said, “Don’t make me out to be no hero because that’s what neighbors do.”