Fires destroy homes, officials urge caution
Dec 17, 2013 | 2812 views | 0 0 comments | 292 292 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two Marshall County families were left homeless by fires last week. This fire on Little Bear Highway resulted in the death of six pets.
—Submitted Two Marshall County families were left homeless by fires last week. This fire on Little Bear Highway resulted in the death of six pets.
By Chris Wilcox

Tribune-Courier News Reporter

After fire destroyed two homes in Marshall County last week, officials are warning homeowners to be more careful about preventing fires during the holiday season.

Last Tuesday a fire razed the home of Brittany Gilman, 21, Ronnie Runkle, 36, and 11-month-old Kristyn Runkle.

Gilman, her daughter and her cousin were in the home on Little Bear Highway in Gilbertsville when the fire started, but according to Gilman other than calling the fire department there was little that could be done.

“We think it was the wiring of the exhaust system in the bathroom that started the fire,” she said. “We had just bought our first house together and we’d never used that fan before.”

According to Chief Bill Johnson, the East Marshall Fire Department received the original call and arrived on scene at around 3 p.m. Tuesday and didn’t leave until the fire was extinguished at about 10 that night.

“East Marshall recived the call, but we were assisted by the Gilbertsville and Palma-Briensburg fire departments and the Red Cross,” he said. “We don’t know what started the fire because the home was engulfed in flames when we got there.”

Gilman said she and her family were staying with relatives, but the incident couldn’t have come at a worse time of the year.

Although homeowner’s insurance will cover some of the damages, Gilman said there was much that was lost which couldn’t be replaced.

“It’s overwhelming. I’ve never felt anything this awful,” she said. “We lost six out of the 12 animals we had. I lost my house, but I also lost part of my family as well.”

A second home was also destroyed last Wednesday in Marshall County, at 803 Olive Street in Benton.

Benton Fire Chief Harry Green said it was likely started by an over loaded electric circuit in the attic of the home.

He said overloaded electric circuits are a common problem during the holiday season when more electronics are being used.

No one was home at the time of the fire, but Green said the home was probably a total loss.

“From the outside it doesn’t look like there was much damage, but inside there was,” he said.

The Benton Fire Department was able to keep the fire mostly contained to the attic, but according to Green there was water and smoke damage throughout the home.

Green said fire departments see these kinds of events during the winter when homes are using more electricity for things like space heaters.

“The best thing anyone can do is to make sure you don’t overload your circuits, but something equally important is making sure you have a working fire alarm,” he said.

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