Early-morning fire destroys RV, injures three

A candle left burning overnight was determined to be the cause of a fire in an RV that  injured and displaced three residents on River Road in Lebanon Wednesday morning , Feb. 24.

Firefighters were on scene within eight minutes of the 6:28 a.m. alarm and reported heavy fire from a fully involved 30-foot Class A motorhome, according to a Lebanon Fire District statement.

Crews began a direct attack on the fire while protecting a nearby camp trailer and modular home from fire exposure. Additional engines and water tenders were brought to the scene to control the blaze, which was outside of the city’s hydrant area. Ten apparatus and 15 personnel responded to the incident.

The RV was occupied by two adults and one 9-year old child at the time of the fire. A 40-year-old female sleeping on a sofa woke from sleep to find her foot on fire and was able to escape the RV with her young daughter, who also suffered minor burns to her hand. The woman sustained full thickness burns to her foot and ankle and was taken to Lebanon Community Hospital by a friend before fire crews arrived.

The third victim was in the rear bedroom of the RV and was trapped by the body of fire in the center of the coach. With the help of a neighbor she was able to break out a rear window and escape the RV through the glass. She sustained minor lacerations to her foot and ankle and was treated on scene by LFD paramedics. Firefighters had the fire knocked down in 15 minutes and continued to overhaul the scene for another hour. The RV was a total loss.

LFD warns citizens of the dangers of unattended or unsupervised candles.

“Candles can be very dangerous and should never be burned unattended or while sleeping,” noted LFD Division Chief and Fire Marshal Jason Bolen. “This incident was less than a minute away from being a triple-fatal fire, and it was a completely avoidable situation.” Modern furnishings burn much hotter and faster than so called “legacy” furnishings, creating thicker smoke at a faster rate and with more heat than legacy fires, which ultimately reduces the time available for occupants to escape a fire. This scenario is even more dangerous in the tight, confined space of an RV.

“These people barely escaped with their lives, and for that we’re very grateful.”, Bolen said. “We hope that others can learn form this close call and prevent a future tragedy in their own home.” LFD recommends that all homes and RV’s have a working smoke alarm and fire extinguisher, and that family members are trained to use them.

“Getting out of the house is the top priority” Bolen said, “But if someone can hit a small fire with an extinguisher on their way out of the house it may be enough to knock the fire down a bit before firefighters arrive.” For more information on home fire safety or to schedule a free fire extinguisher class for your family or employees, contact the Fire & Life Safety Division of the Lebanon Fire District at (541) 451-1901 or visit the district website at www.lebanonfire.org.