A home on Crowell Road between Brown Bridge Road and Interstate 20 was a complete loss after a fire Monday afternoon sent ferocious plumes of black smoke high into the air.
Newton County Fire Chief Mike Satterfield said the call came in at 12:57 p.m. Monday and units quickly responded. He said firefighters were battling wind and extreme heat along with the flames.
"The heat index yesterday was near 100 degrees," Satterfield said, "and that coupled with the heavy equipment firefighters wear and their breathing apparatus, they exhaust very quickly on a day like yesterday."
Because firefighters must replenish fluids and rest more often on extremely hot days, Satterfield said additional units were called in to assist. Five of the seven county fire stations responded to the home.
"Normal house fires don’t require that much manpower except for the heat," Satterfield said. "If it had been a cool spring day or in the fall, we would have not requested assistance."
According to Satterfield, it was possible that not as many units would have needed to respond if the department had not had to let go of their part-time firefighters last year due to budget constraint. NCF employed 12 part-time firefighters, scheduling four on each shift. He said the shift working the fire is one full-time firefighter short.
“We’ll compensate the best we can,” he said, “but in some cases we’ll just have to call more trucks in.”
NCF did request non-emergency assistance from the Covington Fire Department, which sent a four-man unit to help with cleaning up the scene. The last county truck left the home at 5:34 p.m. Monday.
Satterfield said that miraculously no one was in the home at the time of the incident and that despite the extreme heat and a portion of the roof caving in while firefighters were in the home, no one was injured.
Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Satterfield said it originated in the home’s attic. He said in many cases electrical problems start attic fires, but in this case it was too early to determine.