Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Fountain fire chief says apartment fire 'close call;' 3 rescued

By Andrea Sinclair Published: April 9, 2014 0

Three people were displaced by a blaze that destroyed an entire apartment in Fountain early Wednesday morning and the fire chief said could have been deadly.

A 59-year-old woman called 911 when she saw flames and smoke coming from her mattress as she returned from the restroom around 2:50 a.m., according to the fire chief. The woman's entire bedroom was engulfed in flames by the time fire engines and emergency responders arrived, four minutes later.

"The fire station is two blocks away. If this fire had been on the other end of the city, we would've been recovering bodies," Anstine said. "Tonight was a really close call for these people."

The fire sparked from overstretched and exposed wires in an old heating pad on a mattress, said Fountain fire chief Darin Anstine.

"The chords were stretched very tightly around the mattress and at some point the wires arched back and sparked," Anstine said. "The fire started in the bed and spread to the whole bedroom within minutes."

Anstine said the fire sparked in a bedroom on the east end of the building on the 900 block of Grinde Drive, while the front door and staircase to access other units was on the west end of the structure. The flames traveled fast and filled the building with smoke, trapping two upstairs neighbors, Anstine said. Fire crews helped them out of the building unharmed.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries when a piece of ceiling sheet rock fell on him as he rescued the woman, whose apartment was destroyed by the blaze. Anstine said all three residents were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and released.

Both upstairs apartments were structurally sound, Anstine said, but had a lot of smoke and water damage.

The Red Cross was available on scene and helped find the displaced residents find alternate housing, Anstine said.

Chords and wires in electric heating pads or blankets should be loose, never stretched and should always be free of damage, the fire chief said.

"Mattresses can catch on fire real fast, from any spark," Anstine said. "Everyone has to be careful and replace any old or damaged electric heating pads or blankets."

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