Thursday, October 23, 2014

Woman, pets escape fire; home a ‘total loss’

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 3/19/2014

Michelle Neargarder was visibly shaken Tuesday afternoon, but still able to recount what she saw.

“I was sitting watching TV, and went over to play a game on the computer,” Neargarder, rural Ottawa, said. “Next thing you know, I’m hearing ‘Pop! Pop! Pop!’ and the fire alarm is going off.”

Michelle Neargarder was visibly shaken Tuesday afternoon, but still able to recount what she saw.

“I was sitting watching TV, and went over to play a game on the computer,” Neargarder, rural Ottawa, said. “Next thing you know, I’m hearing ‘Pop! Pop! Pop!’ and the fire alarm is going off.”

She stood outside her house Tuesday, watching local firefighters try to save her house from burning down.

Pomona, Williamsburg and Lincoln-Ottawa-Harrison fire departments responded to the fire at 2469 Georgia Road, Alan Radcliffe, Pomona assistant fire chief, said. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Medical Services and the American Red Cross also were on site, he said.

Sgt. Brian Ferguson, with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, said the fire broke out at about 3:32 p.m. Tuesday. Firefighters worked to put out the fire until 7 p.m. Tuesday, Radcliffe said, and no one was injured.

Some belongings from the home were saved, Radcliffe said, but the structure had less chance of being salvaged.

“The fire started in the backside of the house in the kitchen area; possible cause was electrical,” Radcliffe said. “It’s probably going to be listed as a total loss. I think there’s some things they might be able to salvage, but the house itself is going to be a total loss. There were two or three rooms that had heat and smoke damage, but I think they will be able to salvage a few of their belongings.”

Rick Geist, Franklin County undersheriff, said he didn’t think the family had insurance on the house.

The fire started near the kitchen, Neargarder said, and when the smoke alarms went off, she got herself and her pets out of the house. A week before the fire, an electric switch had caught fire, she said, but her boyfriend was able to put it out. The electric switch, she said, must have caught fire again, but this time she was unable to put the fire out alone.

“Last week, we had trouble with the wiring in the back,” Neargarder said. “Last week [my boyfriend] was able to put it out. To my knowledge, he undid that switch to one side, but another light switch that’s close to the kitchen [must have caught fire].”

Neargarder said she tried to put the fire out herself, but realized she needed to get out of the house before it was too late. She and her animals all exited the house safely.

“I was in the kitchen trying to put it out,” Neargarder said. “By that time, it was getting too close to the gas stove. I just got out.”

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