By Jack Gurner
OAKLAND – It starts as a nerve rattling sound that alerts Yalobusha firefighters that somewhere in the county’s 495 square miles their services are needed.
Sometimes days pass before the warbling “tone-out” shatters the silence of the county fire radio frequency. At other times, the calls will follow one another by just minutes. That was the case this weekend.
On Sunday night at 7:17, the distinctive sound was broadcast over the county fire radio frequency. The signal was followed by the voice of the central dispatcher calling Oakland volunteers to attention.
A mobile home fire was reported on Redbud Street, the dispatcher announced. His voice was followed by others reporting “10-8” which means that a member of the fire department is in-service and answering the call.
As the first responding units arrived on the scene, a call went out to “10-25” meaning that other units should disregard. The fire in Oakland was under control.
Meanwhile, another blaze was just beginning to spark to life in the center of the county. A neighbor called 911 to report a fire in the mobile home at 2931 County Road 87.
At precisely 7:51 another tone-out called Coffeeville firefighters to action. Minutes later it was repeated for Velma volunteers. As the Coffeeville pumper arrived on the scene, the driver reported that the structure was “well involved.”
It would only be minutes before the Coffeeville pumper truck would be joined by pumpers from Velma and Pine Valley along with the Velma tanker and a number of volunteer firefighters from all over the county.
It would only take another few minutes before the fire was brought under control. But, it would be too late to save much of anything in the home.
The Human Story
Behind every fire call there is a human story that doesn’t often get told.
In Oakland, the Redbud Street residents were lucky. The fire in their home was confined to an electric outlet that had overheated. The cause was a long extension cord run through the house to a space heater.
The Arbuckle family on CR 87 just north of Coffeeville wasn’t so lucky. Their home was almost a complete loss, a relative said. The couple along with their three sons and a family friend lost just about everything including two of their three pet dogs.
This was the second house fire for the Arbuckles, said Wanda Carter, who – along with other friends – plans to hold a benefit for the family.
Just the day before, a blaze destroyed a home in Water Valley. Saturday night at 7:40, firefighters responded to 612 Fairview Drive in the southeastern part of the city. A neighbor on nearby Blackmur Drive reported the house ablaze.
Although firefighters arrived at 7:44 and had the fire quickly under control, it was too far along when reported and the structure suffered major damage.
Several of the firefighters could be seen comforting the homeowner who had returned to find his house destroyed.
Tuesday morning at 8:40 firefighters were once again called to action. This time O’tuck volunteers responded to a reported structure fire at 1017 County Road 121 in the northeast corner of the county.
Like the residents in Oakland, this family was lucky. A fire on the stove did little damage.
They did the right thing by calling right away, firefighters said as they arrived on the scene.
It could have been much worse.