|Fire fighters wrap up hoses and put equipment away after extinguishing a blaze at a private residence in Kenilworth on Dec. 14. Last Wednesday's fire destroyed an 85-year-old home that was originally constructed by a coal company to house miners along with the families of the workers.|
What apparently started as a small electrical fire turned into a roaring blaze last Wednesday night in Kenilworth.
At 7:35 p.m. on Dec. 14, the Carbon County public safety dispatch center began to receive calls about a fire in a private residence on Main Street in the Kenilworth.
When Helper fire fighters arrived at the scene, the blaze was roaring in the front room of the home and had broken out the window in the northwest corner of the house.
Before the emergency crews could get the hoses hooked up and going, the blaze had spread through the front room and into the kitchen.
"It was burning very strongly in the northwest corner, pretty hard when our crews got here," indicated Helper Fire Chief Mike Zamantakis on Friday. "They started to put water on it, then the interior ceiling caved in."
The incident brought out a crowd of people to watch the fire despite a temperature in the low 20s and winds coming out of the canyon north of the town.
For a time, the north end of Kenilworth on the other side of the wash that divides the town from the burning house was cut off because the fire engines filled Main Street. The alleys around the fire congestion were blocked, too.
Engines from the Price City Fire Department backed up the Helper emergency crews during the incident.
"It is standard procedure in a structure fire to back each other up," pointed out Paul Bedont, Price city fire chief. "We back them up and they back us up when we have a structure fire, too."
It took some time for the emergency crews to get the blaze under control. A fire truck remained in front of the home until approximately midnight, spraying water on smoldering spots in the structure.
On Friday, an official from the state fire marshal's office and insurance investigators were on the scene attempting to identify the source of the blaze.
According to information released it appears the fire was started by a malfunction of some electronic equipment, but the exact determination of the cause is still under some scrutiny.
Whether the fire had smoldered for some time before being noticed was unknown, although one neighbor reported that she smelled smoke (not like the usual coal smoke in the town) some time before the fire was reported. She also said she saw light coming from the area of the house, but thought the flickering was holiday lights.
The residents of the house were not at home at the time, but saw the fire when they came home from work. Two dogs that were in a kennel next to the house were rescued by neighbors, but two cats in the house at the time of the blaze apparently hid under the bed and were overcome by smoke.
Many of the people who live in the area responded to the scene and initially tried to fight the blaze with garden hoses and extinguishers. It was an effort that was fruitless because the fire was out of control before it was noticed.
On initial inspection, insurance adjusters said the house appeared to be a total loss, both in structure and content. After the investigators and adjusters were done making their assessment the house was sealed up until the probe into what caused the fire is complete.