Mobile home fires

It was in the ‘70s and ‘80s that I can remember running the greatest number of mobile home fires or trailer fires, as we called them. Part of the issue was that there were many more trailer parks on the Jeff Davis corridor from Osborne Road to Old Bermuda Hundred Rd. It seemed that we would respond to one or two of these a week, though it might not have been quite that frequent. The big difference in the ones that we ran back then, and the one the other night in Petersburg was that we rarely saw a fatality.

Let me say that my heart goes out to the family who now grieves the loss of their two-year-old, from this most recent fire.

I am not sure what changed to lower the number of trailer fires that are seen today, but something good happened. Awareness of those living in mobile homes may have been part of it. Fires in trailers spread rapidly, once they get going. There are normally two doors out of most mobile homes, on opposite sides and opposite ends of the trailer. One problem is, depending on where the fire starts; someone may be cut off from a doorway. This leaves only a window, unless a person is strong enough to break through a trailer wall. Going back to the rapid fire spread, families must do everything possible to increase their chances of survival, with smoke alarms being necessary for early warning.

From the last thing that I heard, the fire in Petersburg is still under investigation. I am going to list possible causes of fires in mobile homes, based upon my past experience.

  • Cooking related fires account for a high percentage of all residential fires
  • Space heaters placed too close to combustibles
  • Children playing with matches or lighters
  • Heating system malfunctions
  • Candles
  • Dryer fires
  • Electrical system malfunctions
  • Ovens being used as heaters
  • Improper use of smoking materials
  • Intentionally set fires
  • Ceiling and bathroom fans
  • Some type of natural gas or propane issue

Though there are other causes, these account for a large number of the fires that I responded to, in my years in the fire service. The point is that these issues must be addressed in practically every residence, but especially in the mobile home. A practiced home escape plan is vital, whether you live in a camper, a mobile home, or a 5,000 square-foot house. When fire spread is rapid and egress is limited, you must pay more attention to prevent fires, and get you and your family’s escape right the first time.
       

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