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April 21, 2014

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Fires continue at Pressmen's Home

A faulty electrical outlet is being blamed for the house fire at 210 Robin Road. Photo by Randy Costantino.
Last updated: 5:05 PM, 08/03/2009

Source: The Rogersville Review

By Jim Beller

PRESSMEN'S HOME - While residents of the area still reel from last weekend's forest fire which ravaged nearly 1,900 acres of Pine Mountain, two more area fires broke out this week, claiming a nearby house and threatening another.

Tuesday, a home at 210 Robin Road - a football field or so away from where last week's fire started - apparently caught fire from a faulty electrical outlet.

Thursday, firefighters were back in familiar mode and territory: trying to keep flames from encroaching on a home off Laurel Branch Road.

"A mobile home is in danger. The fire is coming down the mountain on it," Striggersville Assistant Chief and EMA director Gary Murrell said Thursday. His troops have been busy lately.

"Today makes the ninth day Striggersville Fire Department has been in Camelot," Murrell said.

"I don't know if someone's helping with the fire or what, but we were back out there last night and again today. This is getting monotonous."

Murrell said he wasn't sure how Thursday's fire started."It didn't start by itself," he said.

Murrell ruled out foul play in Tuesday's blaze, which destroyed the Robin Road home, unoccupied at the time.

"The neighbor noticed smoke coming out the windows and called 911. When we got there, it was about 50 percent involved," Murrell said.
Murrell said the cause appeared to be electrical, starting from an outlet powering home office equipment. "We talked to the renter," he said. "They had problems with their computer and fax machine a couple days before."

The house, owned by Ryan Flegal of Los Angeles, Calif., was a total loss.

A structure fire just south of Pressmen's Home at 636 New Salem Road apparently started around 12:30 p.m.Wednesday after a brush fire got out of control and spread.
Murrell and Hawkins County Sgt. Scott Alley arrived at the scene first.

"Approximately one minute after arriving on the scene, the complainant, Jim Wilhoit, suffered what appeared to be a heart attack and stopped breathing," reported Alley.
"A gentleman standing there in the field started walking toward us and fell over," Murrell added. "When we got to him we saw that he had suffered cardiac arrest, so we started CPR."

Firefighters battled the fire overtaking his stepson's utility shed while Murrell and Alley administered CPR on Wilhoit, 60.

"We got a pulse back and he tried to breath on his own, but he went back out. So we continued CPR until EMS got there. They defibrillated him and brought him back," Murrell said. "He had a good heart rate and good blood pressure when they took him to the hospital."

Wilhoit was transported to Hawkins County Wellmont Hospital, then Holston Valley Hospital. Murrell said as of Thursday morning, Wilhoit was still in critical condition.

Wilhoit had called in the emergency after his brush fire had gotten out of control and spread some 30 yards in distance to the shed, which is situated between his home and that of his stepson.

The shed's owner, David Bennett, 32, told Alley he had been asleep when Wilhoit banged on the door "and told him he had caught his barn on fire," Alley said.

"It looked like he might have been trying to clear out a ditch and the fire just got away from him," Murrell said.

The shed was destroyed, as were a horse trailer, two $300 saddles and other tack stored in the shed.

Fires haven't been confined to the Pressmen's Home area. Thursday afternoon, as crews fought the blaze near Laurel Branch Road, fire departments from Carters Valley, Stanley Valley and Goshen Valley were called to an out-of-control brush fire at 207 Gravelly Valley Road.

"I just hope everybody takes a lesson from this, to be careful and not burn on windy days and watch what they burn," Murrell said.

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