The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Fire guts mobile home Sunday night

No serious injuries from blaze blamed on smoking in bed


Smoke detectors are getting the credit for awaking – and saving - the occupants of a mobile home that caught on fire Sunday night.

"It was pretty nasty," George Keeney, Valdez Fire Chief, said in an interview Monday. "It got the house."

The mobile home, located in Valdez Mobile Home Park, is a total loss.

Keeney said the fire was started when someone fell asleep while smoking in bed.

"They got woke up by the smoke detector," he said. "I'm just totally glad the smoke detectors worked and they woke up and got out."

According to Keeney, the occupants of the home, owned by Brian Cox and Jennifer Sargent, managed to get the burning mattress outside in hopes of saving the mobile home, but the fire spread before the fire department arrived.

"The trailer house was totally engulfed by the time we got there," he said of the call, which came into the station at 8:26 p.m.

While the occupants reported no serious injuries, a press release issued by the City of Valdez Monday said the owner "did have small burns on his hand and was coated with ash. His significant other was in the smoke but did not have as much on her. They both refused any further treatment."

The home was gutted and its contents destroyed Keeney said.

A neighboring mobile home had three sets of windows destroyed from the heat and water the city later reported.

"They don't have a house," Keeney said. "There was no insurance."

Fortunately, the Red Cross, spearheaded by Dorothy Taylor, was on the scene.

Steve Revis photo

A fire gutted the mobile home of Brian Cox and Jennifer Sargent Sunday, which was blamed on a burning mattress caused by smoking in bed.

"It's good to have the Red Cross back in town," Keeney said, noting the organization had not been active in Valdez for some time.

We had five apparatus on scene. Fifteen fire personnel.

The fire department estimated damage at $10,000 for the contents inside the structure and $14,000 as the value of the mobile home.

The fire department crew, 15 personnel and five apparatus, were back at station at 12:15 Keeney said.

According to the US Fire Administration, there are about 7,600 smoking-related fires in homes each year.

"The death rate per 1,000 fires is more than seven times greater in smoking-related home fires than in nonsmoking-related fires," the administration's website says. "Twenty-four percent of smoking-related home fires begin in the bedroom."


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