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Kitchen fire causes significant damage to mobile home

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Apr 7, 2021


A home on Laurel Drive was damaged by fire Wednesday, leaving a mother and child without a home.

The fire started in the kitchen. The cause was attributed to food cooking on a stove unattended

Christi Kulwicki, public information officer and fire inspector for the North Fort Myers Fire & Rescue, said the resident was cooking when she attended to something else. The food caught fire, which did significant damage to the kitchen in the mobile home.

The child who lived with her was not home at the time of the fire and there were no injuries.

It was the third fire that firefighters responded to in the previous 24 hours, one of which was labeled as suspicious, also in Suncoast.

Kulwicki said in neighborhoods such as Suncoast and Palmona Park, there is a higher percentage of fires than in the retirement communities or Moody Estates, due, in part, to the age of the structures.

Suncoast includes a number of older mobile homes.

Newer homes, built to today’s fire codes, mean better fire prevention and protection, Kulwicki said.

It’s the older ones, where fire officials are not sure if people are replacing alarms every 10 years or batteries when they need to be replaced, that they have some concern for.

“They have smoke alarms that are hard wired and those people are going to be safe,” Kulwicki said of newer structures. “What worries us the most is these homes that are older and we don’t know if there are smoke alarms in there.”

In this case, though, it was “human error,” which can happen anywhere, she said.

“It is more active in those (older) areas. However, this fire was definitely one we can do a public service announcement on,” Kulwicki said. “For Fire Prevention Week, the theme was built on ‘Stand by Your Pan,’ meaning don’t leave food unattended.”

Older mobile homes can go up in flames very quickly as a result of the lack of current fire safety features, she said.

Kulwicki said there are things people can do to greatly minimize the risk of a house fire.

“Don’t have a friend do your electric. If you have an electrical problem, have a licensed electrician address it. Do your due diligence and change the battery in the smoke alarm, change smoke alarms, have smoke alarms,” Kulwicki said.

Be especially vigilant in the kitchen, she added.

“And don’t leave anything on the stove unattended, not even for 30 seconds, not to answer the door, not to check on the kids, nothing,” Kulwicki said. “Turn it off, put it on the back burner, then check on the kids or answer the door.”