At 0551 hours, on August 1, a call was placed to Chesterfield 911 stating a possible house fire. Crews shifted into action and within minutes were on the way to 9117 Germont Avenue in Chesterfield County.
"A police officer arrived first on scene," said Lt. Matt Coffin of Chesterfield Fire and EMS, "and confirmed fire coming from the residence. Fire crews arrived and reported heavy fire coming from the rear and roof of the residence."
Officials said because it was a possibility residents were in the home. A search was the priority but firefighters faced a dangerous situation.
"The first on scene crew went into rescue mode," explained Lt. Coffin.
Firefighters entered the home and took a beating from the intense heat and flames. They had to withdraw from the structure due to the intensity of the fire and unsafe conditions. An aggressive attack on the fire was initiated from the outside. When the fire was knocked down, firefighters re-entered the home and resumed the search.
It wasn't known in the beginning, Coffin continued, that the woman and two children had already evacuted the home and were at a neighbor's house.
When it became known the residents were at a neighbor's home, EMS personnel provided aid and discovered that two of the victims had burns. Officials said all three were transported to VCU Medical Center.
Fire crews extinquished the fire but were called back around 1300 hours due to a hotspot flaring up. Engine 17 responded to the fire scene for the second time in one day and performed additional overhaul knocking down the flare-up.
Responding to the fire were: Engine 17, Engine 3, Truck 3, Engine 14, Medic 17, Bensley-Bermuda Volunteer Rescue Squad Unit 525, TSO, Battalion 1 and the Fire Marshal. On an assistance call Engine 11 and Medic 11 responded, then later Engine 17 was dispatched again for the hotspot. Chesterfield County Police were on scene and assisted.
Officials say the cause is under investigation. The home sustained heavy damage. The Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents. Further details have not yet been released on the condition of the occupants.
"The hero of the story," said Lt. Matt Coffin, "is the working smoke detector the family had. If they hadn't had the smoke detector, it is very likely they would have perished in the fire."