The following are simple steps suggested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that can prevent tragedy from a house fire.
• Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy
• Store matches and lighters out of children’s reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet
• Teach children not to pick up matches or lighters they may find. Instead, they should tell an adult immediately
• Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time
• Check under beds and in closets for burned matches, evidence your child may be playing with fire
• Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove
• Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove
• Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches
• If you smoke, smoke outside and put cigarettes out in a can filled with sand
• If people have been smoking in the home, check for cigarettes under cushions
• Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off
• Don’t smoke in bed
Electrical and Appliance Safety
• Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately and do not run cords under rugs or furniture
• Buy electrical products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
• If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord
• Never overload extension cords or wall sockets
• Immediately shut off and professionally replace light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker
Portable Space Heaters
• Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices
• Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, and that have a thermostat control mechanism that will switch off automatically if the heater falls over
• Check with your local fire department on the legality of kerosene heater use. Never overfill it. Use the heater in a well-ventilated room
Fireplaces and Woodstoves
• Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions
• Never burn trash, paper or green wood
• Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace
• Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed
More Prevention Tips
• Avoid using lighted candles
• Never use the range or oven to heat your home
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, ready.gov
Monday was cruel for some Middle Tennessee families.
As a house fire in Springfield, Tenn., killed four children Monday morning, another fire a few hours later in Tullahoma, Tenn., killed a 6-year-old girl and seriously burned two siblings, both of them younger than 2.
Franklin County, Tenn., Sheriff Tim Fuller identified the girl killed in the blaze as Sophie Burks. Sophie was pronounced dead at Southern Tennessee Regional Health System in Winchester. Her brother, 1-year-old Landen Burks, and sister, 6-month-old Leah Tigue, were flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville for treatment, Fuller said.
On Tuesday afternoon, Landen was still listed in critical condition in Vanderbilt's burn unit, sheriff's office spokesman Sgt. Chris Guess said. Leah could be released from the hospital soon, Guess said.
The home where the fire happened is on Blue Creek Road in Franklin County's portion of Tullahoma. Most of the town lies in Coffee County.
Fuller said the fire apparently broke out after mother Kristie Burks walked to a neighbor's house to use the phone.
Another neighbor saw smoke, alerted Burks and called 911, Fuller said. The sheriff said school resource officer Jason Brockman was at his post at North Lake Elementary School a half-mile away when the call came out.
Brockman was the first emergency official to arrive, followed closely by a second deputy, Fuller said.
The sheriff said the children's mother had gotten Sophie out. Brockman and Deputy Troy Parsons, who arrived minutes after Brockman, helped get the two other children out of the burning house.
"The 6-year-old was unresponsive, wasn't breathing," Fuller said. CPR was performed on Sophie at the scene until she was transported to the Winchester hospital.
Landen and Leah had to be taken to a local airport because the medical helicopter couldn't land near the scene because of low clouds, the sheriff said.
Meanwhile, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents and officials from the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Division of the state fire marshal's office are assisting in the investigation.
Fuller said there was no indication of foul play and the fire's cause has not been determined.
"We're still in the investigative stage," Fuller said.
According to state records, the property is owned by John and Elizabeth Flanagan and has two dwellings on it, both with listed building dates of 1920. The two homes sit on an 11-acre tract that is adjacent to a handful of other homes.
Fuller said the family was renting the Blue Creek Road home and he was unaware whether smoke detectors were installed in the house.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569.