Residence a total loss after three alarm fire

Kerry Adams of Craft Fire Department combs through the debris checking for hot spots.

By Chad Fell
Courtesy of the Northwest Alabamian

HALEYVILLE — Firefighters faced many obstacles while battling a structure fire on Mize Loop in Haleyville Tuesday afternoon, June 4, including having to search for the home’s owner.
Robert Weaver had lived in the house on Mize Loop over 20 years, according to neighbors who voiced significant concern about his safety.
The Craft Fire Department received the call of a possible structure fire, responding with a pumper, tanker and rescue unit, according to Assistant Chief John Chambers.
“When we arrived on the scene, there was heavy fire showing at the front of the house,” Chambers said.
Craft called for assistance from Bear Creek and Haleyville, with Marion County EMS also responding to the scene, as well as the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and Bear Creek Police Department.
Firefighters used the water capacity on their trucks to apply about 3,500 gallons to beat down the blaze within about 15 minutes, firefighters on the scene said.
Firefighters were also able to make entry to spray water on the flames consuming the residence, as well as to check for hot spots using a thermal imaging camera after the main blaze was extinguished.
“They don’t know if (Weaver) is here or not,” Chambers pointed out just after the blaze was extinguished. “We’re in the process of clearing the house to make sure he is not.”
Craft Fire Chief Ray Cantrell added he did a walk-around of the residence.
“They don’t think he’s home. The neighbors said they watched him leave,” Cantrell said at the scene, adding that Weaver’s vehicle was not at the residence.
Weaver was located, unharmed, later that day.
While battling the blaze, firefighters encountered several obstacles, including debris and numerous items being stored inside the residence, blocking firefighters from being able to reach the blaze, Cantrell pointed out.
“It was hard for the firemen to maneuver inside because there were items they had lying around in the house,” Cantrell pointed out. “They had a little walk trail.”
Cantrell warned against piling up excess clutter in a house because it can hinder firefighters, as well as create a fire safety hazard.
“It impedes their (residents’) exit, if they get trapped in a fire,” Cantrell stated. “It impedes firemen from getting to them or extinguishing the fire.
“It’s always important to have your walk paths, your exits and entrances clear,” Cantrell added.
Firefighters searched through extensive debris to make sure all hot spots were extinguished after the fire, they said.
“It’s a total loss,” Cantrell pointed out. “It’s always tragic. We always hate to see anybody lose their home.”
Firefighters confirmed that no electricity was active at the residence, but a generator was being used.
“That creates different safety hazards,” Cantrell stated.
The cause of the blaze has not been determined, according to Cantrell.
Bear Creek Fire Captain Jonathan Lewis was one of the firefighters who put on a self-contained breathing apparatus and entered the burning home to extinguish the blaze.
“The fire started getting up in the attic,” Lewis recalled. “Haleyville was able to knock that down, then we came over to the left side and starting putting hot spots out.”
Lewis described the scene as a heartbreaking situation.
“When somebody loses all of their belongings or a house, it’s pretty devastating, no matter who it is,” Lewis said.
“We had to remove some of the furniture to get back there to the fire,” he noted.
Firefighters also encountered three propane tanks inside the house during the fire, but they were sprayed down with water to cool them, then removed from the residence, Lewis stated.
Neighbors recalled Weaver as being generous to the area children, allowing them to fish at a pond he owns.
“He has always been super kind,” Warren noted.
Gary Mize, one of the first responders on the scene, conducted traffic control at Mize Loop. The residence where Weaver lived is at least 55-years old, according to Mize.
“It’s all about community coming together when something like this strikes,” Mize stated.
Cantrell commended all of the first responders for assisting at the scene.
“We all work together,” he noted. “We appreciate Haleyville and Bear Creek’s help”…

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