It’s all over except for putting out little hot spots by Toledo firefighters. Yesterday’s explosive house fire at the corner of Maple and Alder Lane Drive was one of the larger home fires the Toledo Fire Department has battled over the years.
Flames rose 30 to 40 feet in the air, igniting adjacent trees – cedars especially – that have dried out to the extent that when they catch fire, they go off like a tree-top torch. At one point, the fire was raining down sparks on neighbors’ properties – a family to the west nearly losing their garage. Sparks came in through an open window and ignited the underside of the roof. Firefighters got the fire out in time before there was major damage.
Fire Chief Will Ewing said he knew something wasn’t normal about this fire when he learned that fire units pulling up saw a fully engulfed home with obvious signs of a very mature blaze – big and wide – tall flames – already lots of damage – trees engulfed in fire as well.
Chief Ewing says although no final conclusions have yet been drawn, it reminds him of what happens when a small smoldering fire in a confined area finally gets enough oxygen and the whole place explodes. He said reports from neighbors that they heard a loud explosion was probably from an acetylene tank blowing up.
The owner of the home made it out okay but his cat did not. The renter was away.
Chief Ewing says his department, coupled with the State Fire Marshal’s Office and insurance company investigators, will compare notes and come up with a probable cause.
Chief Ewing noted that the way the trees were burning indicates that they’re very dry and can quickly be turned into a wall of fire. He urges every parent to know what they’re children are up to – making sure they’re not playing with fire. All smoking materials should be disposed of properly – not just flicked aside as so many smokers do. A flicked cigarette or match can turn an entire neighborhood in to a pile of ash and debris in less than an hour. Many coastal residents are not used to such dry conditions and must remind themselves constantly that the fate of their home, and the homes and businesses of others, is in their hands. Literally in – their – hands! And these volatile conditions will persist until the first rains of fall. And who knows when that will be since we’re in the middle of a drought.