Before the Fourth of July fireworks in Mount Airy, there was a fire — one that has displaced a city housing authority resident.
The culprit in Tuesday’s accidental blaze at 416 Marshall St. was an all-too-common one encountered by the Mount Airy Fire Department:
“It was a cooking fire on top of the stove — unattended cooking,” Fire Chief Zane Poindexter said Wednesday regarding the origin of the incident which has mirrored others before.
“We see it all the time — it’s just another case in point,” Poindexter added.
Tuesday’s incident was reported about 6:20 p.m., with nine members of the department responding. They had the situation under control in 10 minutes.
The resident of the apartment involved, Allen Greene, escaped unharmed, but has been temporarily displaced. “He was put up last night by the American Red Cross,” Poindexter said Wednesday.
Damages estimated at $6,000 resulted, including $5,000 in structural damages centered in the kitchen area and $1,000 for contents.
It is not known when Greene will be able to return, although the city housing authority was expected to begin expediting repairs to allow that, including dealing with cabinet and stove damage along with repainting.
Neighbors in the same housing complex were evacuated due to the blaze. “But they were allowed to go back to their apartments,” the fire chief said.
“There are seven or eight apartments there,” Poindexter said of those that had a potential to be severely impacted by the cooking-related incident.
He explained that the danger lies when grease cooks unattended on a stove and reaches an ignition point that sparks a fire. “It just takes a second for it to start.”
Poindexter said that while Tuesday’s fire was contained without serious consequence, it provides a reminder for local residents to be ever-diligent when preparing meals.
In December 2014, a 2-year-old boy died after a cooking-related blaze broke out in the kitchen of his family’s home on Banner Street.
Before that incident, Mount Airy had experienced no fire-related fatalities for more than 20 years, since November 1994.
In addition to the city fire department and Red Cross, the resources of the Surry County Emergency Medical Service and Mount Airy Rescue Squad were called for at the scene of Tuesday’s blaze.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.