Like many in the area, Tarkington homeowner Jake Hawthorne was worried about his pets during the recent freezing weather, so he made arrangements to keep them warm, which included a heating lamp. Little did he realize that those arrangements might cost his family their home.
Shortly after 4:00 AM, he was awakened by his dogs barking at what he thought was a car in his driveway. Peering out of the blinds at what he assumed was a car’s headlights, he was shocked to discover the front of his two-bedroom home on CR2268 in flames.
Awakening his family, a 911 call was then placed that would quickly bring Tarkington Volunteer Fire Department.
Tarkington Assistant Chief Evert Doucette arrived a few minutes later to find heavy fire coming from the outside of the home, spreading into the kitchen and attic. Tarkington Engine 51 and Engine 52 arrived shortly thereafter and firefighters immediately began attacking the fire.
Cleveland and HWY321 fire departments were called to assist with the fire. Thanks to their combined efforts, the fire was contained in the kitchen and attic, which were heavily damaged. The rest of the house did suffer relatively minor smoke and water damage. Firefighters were able to save all of the family’s clothing and most of their personal belongings and furniture.
The fire would be the first of four for the day. As Tarkington firefighters wrapped up that scene, they were dispatched to assist North Liberty and Woodpecker fire departments with a structure fire in the northeast end of Liberty County, just off of SH146.
The third and fourth calls came in Saturday afternoon, both for brush fires. The first was on SH321 just north of CR2243, followed by another on FM2518 just north of CR2222.
Tarkington firefighters urge residents to use caution when using heat lamps or space heaters to keep animals warm.
Just last week the CISD Ag barn was destroyed along with 17 animals. The Montgomery County Fire Marshal determined the cause to be a heat lamp.
While they were at the scene they performed a test by letting a heat lamp come in contact first with hay. Within two minutes it was ablaze. Next were wood shavings and the same result.