By NATHAN GREGORY
Starkville Fire Department Fire Marshal Mark McCurdy said the Jan. 27 fire at Summer Chase Apartments on 300 Carver Drive was accidental in nature and caused by an open flame grill/smoker on the building’s patio. The fire destroyed one of the complex’s buildings.
McCurdy said two electrical engineers were consulted during the investigation and ruled out wiring or any other electrical items as a cause. Though the smoker was the heat source, the first ignited item is undetermined, he said.
SFD concluded its investigation Friday, McCurdy said.
‘What we’re going to call it now is an accidental fire. We know there was an open-flame grill on the back patio that was going, and we believe (it) was a heat source to start the fire,” McCurdy said. “The item first ignited by the heat source is undetermined; there are numerous things on that patio that could have burned (such as) boxes or plastic.”
He said of the many preventative measures that can be taken for emergency situations, checking smoke detectors and having a fire extinguisher are two of the most helpful.
“Have smoke detectors in each bedroom and one outside of the bedroom. Make sure to check them on a monthly basis by hitting the button on the detector to make sure it’s working,” he said. “We recommend changing batteries every six months during time changes when you roll the clocks forward and backward. This fire happened during daylight hours so the people there were able to get out, but if you reverse the situation and it’s nighttime, the only way people who are asleep can get out safely is if they have that smoke detector. We recommend every home has at least one ABC-type fire extinguisher for use on small fires, grease fires, (and) things of that nature. Be sure to keep heaters and other heating appliances 3 feet away from combustibles in your house.”
McCurdy said assistance provided by residents and services has been crucial to the welfare of those affected by the blaze.
“We would like to thank everybody involved with helping (in the aftermath) of the fire,” he said. “It is because of the people, businesses and services in the community that helped that a tough situation was made easier to handle.”