By CLINT FOSTER
PALO PINTO COUNTY – It seems affectionate couples weren’t the only ones heating things up this Valentine’s Day. Three fires – as well as love – burned across Palo Pinto County, Friday, necessitating timely responses from area volunteer fire departments.
The Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department quenched two grass fires on the holiday, the first of which burned just before 1 p.m. in the 3300 block of Pioneer Drive. MWVFD said a downed power line sparked the flames.
Soon after, at 2:45 p.m., the Mineral Wells Volunteers were off to the second grass fire on US Highway 281 north at Peadonville.
Once MWVFD had extinguished their fires, a final Valentine’s Day blaze made for a busy night for the Graford Volunteer Fire Department when a man’s RV caught fire in the 600 block of East Division Street.
County Fire Marshal Buddy Harwell said the man – who was living in the camper behind his family’s house – had a space heater in his trailer attached to the house by a long extension cord.
At around 9:30 p.m., Harwell said the man woke up and noticed that the heater wasn’t working properly.
When he went to investigate the heater in question, he noticed it had seized up, caught fire and was burning the area around it.
Harwell said the man immediately evacuated his RV, called the GVFD and tried to turn the garden hose on the fire.
Graford’s volunteers arrived and put out the flames in about an hour, but not before the trailer had burned completely to the ground. Harwell said fires like this one are common with space heaters, especially when they are not set up in the safest ways or in the safest places.
“Those space heaters need to be on a good, dedicated cord,” he said. “Those space heaters pull a lot of watts. So, (for example, if) it’s wanting 250 watts, but you lose wattage for every foot (of cord), so, the heater’s not getting what it needs. That’s why they malfunction a lot of times. It’s called under-currenting.”
Harwell said the fire did not pose any immediate threat to the home in front of it because the RV was a far enough distance away from the house and the winds were pushing the flames in the opposite direction. He added that luckily the man did not lose everything he owned – as he had some possessions inside the family’s house – and has been able to move in with his relatives, at least temporarily. Harwell said the fire was deemed purely accidental and does not require further investigation.
No injuries were reported for any of the three Valentine’s Day fires.