COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus firefighters battled three separate fires early Wednesday.
One fire was located at 1040 18th St. that broke out on 5:08 a.m. near Midtown Medical Center. The cause of the fire is undetermined and Chief Shores explained the structure damage to the building was about $50,0000 and about $20,000 in content damages.
The fire reportedly started at the backside of the house. Battalion Chief Keith Watson said the neighbor, Kenneth King, says flames were pouring out of the home, and are still investigating as the quell hot spots.
"I heard a bunch of screaming out at the parking lot right across from the medical center," King said. "I could see flames through my back window of the house, and the whole back end of their house was just blazing. Our houses are so close together, my wife and I didn't know if our house was going to catch fire. But the fire department came and handled it pretty quickly."
A second fire happened on 29 Ticknor Drive at 3:14 a.m., displacing two adults and two children. Chief Ricky Shores says no one was injured. and grease on stove top was the cause of the fire. Watson said a set of apartments were on fire with flames shooting out, with one unit in particular badly burned. The Red Cross was called out to assist them. There were no injuries reported. Chief Shores said the structure damage would be about $40,000 and about $20,000 for personal content damages.
A third fire was located at 1055 Winston Rd. at 4:45 a.m. at an abandoned, unoccupied home. The fire was contained to one room and the structure damage is about $5,000 according to Chief Shores. Chief Shores also said Winston Road is considered to be one of the high fire areas, and the cause of the fire is being investigated as suspicious since there was no power available inside the building.
Chief Shores said there were cases where multiple house fires had happened close together in the past, and these cases can happen. Chief Shores also said all three fires were unrelated. Winston Road and Ticknor Drive are close to each other, but 18th Street is far from these two places.
"We have seen an increase over the last couple of months, and we have had some large residential fires in our area," Shawn McCorry with the Red Cross explained. "We are seeing an increase due to the colder weather. During this time of the year, we often see kitchen fires and cooking fires...people cooking at night. They may fall asleep or accidentally leave the house forgetting about that stove. Always cook when you are most alert."
Chief Shores also explained grease on stove is the leading cause of residential fires. McCorry also says people need to remember a few things to protect their homes from fire this winter.
"When you use space heaters, make sure that you don't leave it as your primary form of heater in your house and apartment," McCorry explained. they are not made to stay for a long periods of time. Make sure you also unplug your chargers and other electrical cords when you are not using it. It can cause issues."
McCorry says the Red Cross responds to a home fire every 90 seconds in America.
"We can always use more volunteers," McCorry explained. "Our trained staff and our volunteers could always use some help from the community."
Chief Shores also says people need to make sure heating devices are about three feet away from combustible materials. He also says the fire department sees a rise in home fires in winter because of kitchen fires and heating fires.
"General house keeping rules can prevent most of the residential fires that we see," Chief Shores explained. "Don't overload electrical circuits and have professionals do electrical or gas work for you."
Columbus Fire has an annual program designed to install and give free smoke alarms for the less fortunate in the city. However, Chief Shores said all residents can call the fire department at 706-653-3500 to get their free smoke alarms.
Georgia State officials say 91 fatal home fires happened in the state in 2013, and 43 of these homes did not have smoke alarms.
In 2014, 60 people have died in house fire in Georgia so far.