Four overnight fires

The Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office issued a list of tips on Friday regarding safe heating practices after multiple structure fires overnight, including one that seriously burned a man in East Montgomery County.

Kevin Salyers, 33, was critically burned inside his home in the 24000 block of Misty Lake Circle near SH 242, west of FM 1485.

Salyers was flown by Life Flight air ambulance to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston where he remained in critical condition Friday afternoon, according to Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams.

The first crews were dispatched around 10:30 p.m. to what became a three-alarm fire, with New Caney Fire Department in command.

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The two-story white with yellow trim wood frame home was destroyed, with the garage area burned almost to the ground.

NCFD received assistance from Needham Fire and Rescue, Bennett Volunteer Fire Department and River Plantation Fire Department in Montgomery County, as well as Cleveland Fire Department from Liberty County and Huffman Fire Department from Harris County.

Because the home is on a wooded lot in the Northcrest Ranch subdivision, firefighters also fought to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby homes under low humidity conditions.
The battle went on throughout the night, with an additional house fire in Ranch Estates Subdivision occurring just as most EMC crews were going back in service after fighting the fire on Misty Lake Circle.

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The Ranch Estates fire was the third for New Caney with no downtime in between.

Around 8 p.m., the agency was dispatched to “Let’s Eat BBQ” on FM 1485 near Heavenly Lane. Williams said the fire began in the cooking area of the restaurant that is popular with firefighters and many other locals. The rear of the restaurant was heavily damaged, but paled in comparison to the devastation caused by another cooking fire early Friday morning that destroyed CJ’s One Stop, a convenience store on FM 1314 near SH 242.

The owner’s brother and store manager, Pete Khewhea, said he already cooked the usual morning fare, but left the grease over the fire as he always had, so it would be ready when he needed to cook something else. For some reason, on Friday, the grease ignited while he was in the front of the store with a customer, he said.
Khewhea started for the fire extinguisher but was stopped by a customer.

“The customer said I need to go outside because the fire was too bad,” Khewhea said.

He complied and watched helplessly as the business he brother bought seven-and-a-half years earlier became an inferno.

It was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived from Porter and River Plantation Fire Departments, Needham Fire and Rescue and Bennett Volunteer Fire Department responded.

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Investigator Darren Hess said there was no vent hood system over the deep fryer, which is now required by code, but was not when the restaurant was built.

The Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating all of the fires and issued a press release stating there were 23 structure fires in the county since January 11 and most were related to heating issues.

The Fire Marshal issued the following recommendations and statement:

* All homes should be equipped with a working smoke detector in every bedroom, as well as in hallways, living areas and on each level of a home.
* Homes using natural gas or propane fueled heating appliances should also be equipped with at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of the home.
* Before using a space heater, make sure it is in good condition and has a tip over switch.
* A tip over switch should turn the heater off when it is tilted or falls over. Space heaters should be kept a minimum of 3 feet away from anything that will burn and should not be left on when you are sleeping.

The MCFMO and FM Jimmy Williams would like to remind all County residents, “The number one thing you can do to protect your family from fire is to make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home.”

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