A child’s bike is among the carnage of a house fire on Morse Street as a Clovis firefighter carefully picks his way through burned rubble looking for “hot-spots.” (Staff photo: Sharna Johnson)
By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer
Jeff Christensen was letting his dog out Tuesday morning when he noticed flames shooting over the roof of a home on Morse Street.
Approaching the home, he spied a baby’s crib through the front window. He also heard a whining sound, so the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad worker said he kicked open the front door and went inside to look for occupants at 1804 Morse Ave.
“I ran to the house and heard things exploding. I wanted to check it out and see if I could help,” said Christensen, who found the house unoccupied.
Using the cell phone of a citizen who had stopped to help him battle the fire, Christensen called 911 about 9:45 a.m. Christensen said he and the two men used a garden hose in the back yard of the burning home to try and stop the fire from spreading to surrounding homes, Christensen said.
“We tried to soak the house as much as possible, but the wooden fence started going up and the fire jumped to the house next door,” said Christensen.
The Clovis Fire Department responded to the fire at 9:48 a.m., according to Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman said.
Westerman said the three-bedroom, single-story home was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived at the scene.
A heater, set up outside by a shed to keep a dog warm, caught fire and spread through the back yard, according to Clovis Fire Department Investigator Karen Burns.
Burns said the shed fire jumped to a stack of dry firewood piled up against the house and spread throughout the residence.
The fire was contained by 11 a.m., Westerman said. He said home suffered extensive fire and smoke damage.
Western said a family of four live in the home. He said at the time of the fire the parents were at work, one child was at school and one at daycare. One of the family’s two dogs died in the fire, he said.
Family members declined comment.
Westerman recommends citizens call 911 and let professionals fight fire due to dangerous situations that can arise in the course of putting out a blaze. He noted there was a propane tank and an air compressor found where the shed once stood.
Christensen said he wasn’t trying to be a hero and he would likely react the same if the situation arose again.
Winter weather fire safety tips:
• Electric space heaters should be kept away from combustible items.
• Don’t leave space heaters on while sleeping or while not at home.
• Make sure smoke detectors are functioning properly.
• If fire wood is kept in the back yard, place it away from the house.
• Do not put fireplace ashes in trash containers.
• Be aware and careful about exhaust, sparks and cigarettes while working outside by dry grass.
Source: Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman