A father and son narrowly escaped an overnight fire that destroyed their Columbus home.
Columbus Fire Department responded to 313 Smith St. at 12:04 a.m. Saturday and arrived within four minutes.
When firefighters and police officers arrived at the scene, they found the front of the home was fully engulfed, with heavy fire through the home’s entrance door and living space, and flames pushing out of front and side windows, and shooting well above the home’s roof, said Capt. Mike Wilson, spokesman for Columbus Fire Department.
Also, Columbus Police Department officers reported hearing explosions as they approached the home and advised firefighters that the several oxygen cylinders were inside, Wilson added.
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Garry Gatewood, 63, told fire department investigators that he and his 33-year-old son, Doug Gatewood, were the only occupants in the home, and that the fire began in the living room, where he was seated in a recliner.
The fire originated in the recliner and spread to a nasal cannula that supplies home oxygen therapy, Garry Gatewood said, and it continued to spread through the area of the recliner, eventually igniting the carpet and floor-length curtains behind the recliner, Wilson said.
Garry Gatewood told firefighters that he was a smoker, but denied he was smoking when the fire occurred, Wilson said.
As the fire spread, Garry Gatewood unsuccessfully attempted to extinguish it by pouring a drink on the flames. As the fire grew, he called out for his son to help extinguish the fire, Wilson said.
Doug Gatewood told investigators that he saw the oxygen tubing burning across the floor as the fire grew within the area of the recliner. He also told investigators that as he and his dad attempted to extinguish the fire, smoke conditions inside the 1,000-square-foot home deteriorated.
The son attempted to throw water on the fire but met thick black smoke, and Doug Gatewood told investigators that he couldn’t see his father inside the home’s living room. With the fire spreading and smoke conditioning worsening, both men exited a side door, Wilson said.
They were assisted by police officers before being evaluated by Columbus Regional Health paramedics, Wilson said.
Firefighters attacked the fire from an exterior position. As addition fire units arrived, firefighters deployed additional hand lines. The fire burned through a section of the flooring leading into the home from the main door entrance. Firefighters transitioned into an interior attack and the fire was under control within 13 minutes, Wilson said.
No injuries were reported at the scene.
Columbus Fire Department investigators have listed the fire as accidental. Damage to the home’s interior caused by flames and heat were significant. The home and its contents, with an estimated $100,000 value, are considered a total loss, Wilson said.
The Salvation Army is assisting the family with emergency shelter.
Agencies that assisted at the scene included the Salvation Army, Columbus Police Department, Columbus Regional Health EMS, Duke Energy, Vectren Energy and Columbus City Utilities.