On Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 7:27 am, the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company, along with automatic mutual aid departments was dispatched to the Structure Fire in the 200 block of Birch Run Road, Mile Tree Village development. The 9-1-1 caller was reporting an odor of smoke inside. Upon further investigation, the homeowner discovered a smoke condition in the attic. The family promptly evacuated the home.
The home had working Smoke Alarms. They did not operate because there was no visible smoke in the living space.
The first arriving engine found light smoke coming from the outside attic vent and verified the homeowner’s report about the odor of burning. During investigation, a small fire was discovered in the ceiling of a second-floor bedroom closet. The source of the fire was a malfunctioning ceiling light. It was evident the fire had been burning for some time as the adjacent joist (above the finished ceiling) was completely burned away and missing. Firefighters were able to extinguish and overhaul the fire with minimal collateral damage. Overhaul is the process of ensuring a fire is completely out.
This family was truly fortunate. Had this occurred overnight while the family was sleeping, the outcome may have been completely different. Everyone is reminded to make sure their Smoke Alarms are properly installed and working. If your Smoke Alarm(s) have replaceable batteries, make sure to replace them regularly. A good Rule of Thumb is to replace the batteries twice a year, using the biannual time change as a reminder. “Change you clocks, Change your batteries!” Better yet? Consider updating your Smoke Alarm(s) with those that are equipped with an integrated 10-year battery. The battery is not accessible by the user. When the battery dies, the whole Smoke Alarm is replaced.
Another Fire Safety recommendation is developing a Family Fire Escape Plan and practicing it. Make sure you have a designated meeting place outside the home where everyone can be accounted for. If someone is missing, never reenter the home to search for them. Once out, stay out! Make sure that 9-1-1 is informed that someone is missing. They will pass this information to us. Life Safety is our first and foremost concern.
We operated at this incident for approximately 90 minutes. There were no injuries to emergency personnel or civilians.
Departments dispatched to this incident:
Rock Hall VFC (ambulance requested, than canceled)
Church Hill VFC
Kent & Queen Annes Rescue Squad
Kent County EMS