Flames engulf Cordova home on July 5

July 5 fire in CordovaShelby County Fire Department sealFireworks were the likely cause of a blaze that heavily damaged a Cordova home overnight on July 4, investigators say.

After exhaustive investigative efforts at the scene, the fire marshal of the Shelby County Fire Department (SCFD) points towards discarded remnants of discharged fireworks as a probable source of the fire that virtually destroyed the residence — a 3,000 square foot home in the 8900 block of River Pine, near Macon Road.

“We looked at the fire layer by layer as we sifted through the debris. said Jake Haley, SCFD fire marshal. “This pointed us toward a point of origin pretty clearly, and that in conjunction with what we were told by the individuals in the home, led us to believe that discharged fireworks that were placed into a garbage can, probably had burning embers which likely smoldered and eventually caught the container on fire — spreading to the home and two vehicles in the driveway.”

SCFD fire chief Alvin D. Benson cautioned Shelby County residents. “The use and shooting of fireworks is not legal here. Every year around this time, we respond to injuries and fires directly related to fireworks. We are even asked to provide fireworks safety tips and our response over and over is this: ‘They are illegal. Don’t use them.’ ”

The home, valued at more than $200,000, is likely a total loss.

Firefighting efforts

Near midnight on July 4 and in the first minutes of July 5, a stream of callers to the fire alarm office alerted the Shelby County Fire Department: A home in the 8900 block of River Pine in Cordova was going up in flames.

It was a “full assignment” for a home fire that went out to three Shelby County engine companies, battalion chiefs and responders, as well as to the Memphis Fire Department.

They arrived to see fire and smoke showing from the front and left sides of the house. The flames were so severe that firefighters were not able to enter the home to begin extinguishing flames from the inside. Initially, all attempts were made from the exterior.

At the height of the firefighting operation, more than 20 fire fighters from four engine companies were needed to bring the flames under control. None of the firefighters or any of the home’s five occupants were injured, although the family’s pet cat, Mittens, died in the immense blaze.

The fire was under control by 12:58 a.m.

The National Fire Protection Agency states that across America in 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage.