Spike in structure fires during deep freeze

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - As the temperatures continue to dip, the number of structure fires is on the rise.

We checked with dispatch offices in Sullivan County and Kingsport and they tell us within the past 48 hours they've responded to six fires, a number they would usually see in an entire week.

Enduring a bone-chilling Tuesday afternoon is now the least of April Bright's problems.

"I was at work and I received a call that my house was on fire. I don't know what happened.  It started in the basement," said April Bright.

Bright tells News 5, no one was inside when her Grandview Drive home caught on fire.

"Neighbors saw the fire coming out of the house and called 911," said Bright.

We learned the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the home just before 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Bright tells us firefighters were able to rescue the family's dog, but the family cat couldn't be saved.

With temperatures in the teens, fighting the flames proved to be a dangerous task for firefighters.

"Any type of water that gets on the ground ices over almost immediately and becomes a slip hazard at that point. We have to watch where we step. Salt would be a wonderful thing to have right now," said Ryan Brown, Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department firefighter.

And over the past 2 days, Ryan Brown tells us volunteer firefighters across the county have been at high demand.

"This seems to be a trend. We do run more structures fires; they tend to happen when it gets cooler. We tend to stay on our toes and keep people at the hall and we try to come by as often as we can," said Brown.

It's believed an electrical short in a recess light started the fire.  While the home sustained significant damage, it's not a total loss.

"I'm just in shock. Broken-hearted. You never expect something like this to happen.  You see it on the news all of the time and it happens to other people., but you think it will never happen to you.  So, it happened to me today," said Bright.

The Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department tells us the spike in fires during this time of year is often related the high usage of space heaters.

They tell us you should check your outlets and wiring regularly, and you should never leave your space heater unsupervised.

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