June 24, 2018

Fire Chief issues further details on weekend blaze that destroyed fire engine

The Heard County Fire Engine pictured above was engulfed by a 20-30 acres brush fire just north of Franklin Sunday.  The estimated value of the engine is $107,000. (Photo: Heard County Fire Department)

The Heard County Fire Engine pictured above was engulfed by a 20-30 acres brush fire just north of Franklin Sunday. The estimated value of the engine is $107,000. (Photo: Heard County Fire Department)

(Franklin, GA) — Heard County fire chief Steve Wirth says that a small forest fire just north of Franklin over the weekend began when someone tried to start an old motorhome on the property.

Heard County Fire and Emergency services responded to a grass and brush fire behind the properties located at 3675 and 3541 Franklin Parkway Sunday afternoon.

Upon arrival units found a fast moving grass fire that was wind driven moving east and southeast.

Initial efforts by fire crews were to protect the two residences located at 3675 and 3541 Franklin Parkway.

At the height of the fire, eight of the 10 stations from Heard county as well as resources from forestry units were needed to contain the fire.

According to a press release issued by Chief Wirth Tuesday, while there were no injuries and no residential homes were damaged by the fire, the county did lose a fire engine.

“During the efforts to protect the residences, one of the Heard County fire engines was overran by the swift moving fire,” said Wirth in the release.

The fire burned between 20 and 30 acres in an area between the gas pipeline and Old Field Raod at the former location of the Advantage Tactical Shooting Range. The property owner is David Tompkins of Newnan.

This 1983 motorhome that caused the fire was also a total loss and had an estimated value of $3500.00

This 1983 motorhome that caused the fire was also a total loss and had an estimated value of $3500.00 (Photo: Heard County Fire Department)

Wirth says the fire started from an attempt to start a 1983 Ford motorhome that had been sitting on the back of the property for some time.

The motor home was owned by Dennis Shaw of Peachtree City, and was a total loss with a value of about $3500.00.

The lost Heard County fire engine was a 1998 E-One fire engine on a Ford Chassis.

It was also a total loss with a value of $107,000.00 dollars and was insured by the county.

Chief Wirth said in a phone interview on Monday that several factors contributed to the loss of the fire engine including the extremely dry conditions and the inexperience of his young firefighters.

“Some of it may have been due to the fact of inexperienced young firefighters and one thing that we battle here is our turnover rate — it’s just one of the evils that we have here in Heard County — but no, that was not the whole contributing factor,” said Chief Wirth. “They have been trained and they have been through it — it was just a situation where they basically got overran by the fire — it came on them very quickly.”

Wirth added that even though standard procedures were followed, the fire was difficult to gain control of given the drought conditions and winds that day.

“A lot of people get the false impression of ‘it’s just a grass fire, it’s no big deal’ but when it’s wind-driven like that it’s unbelievable how fast it can spread,” says Wirth.

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