Columbus firefighters extinguish blaze in semi trailer being used as temporary shelter

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Columbus firefighters put out a fire in a semi-trailer at 1:52 p.m. Monday that they later learned was being used as a temporary shelter.

The trailer was located in the 1900 block of Seventh Street, said Capt. Mike Wilson, Columbus Fire Department spokesman. As firefighters approached the scene, they were advised by Bartholomew County Emergency Operations Center dispatchers of the possibility of persons using the trailer for shelter.

Columbus police, who arrived just prior to firefighters, spoke to an adult male on the scene who reported all persons were out the trailer. Police officers relayed this information to arriving firefighters who, at this time, were deploying fire attack to the entrance of the trailer.

Firefighters directed water into the trailer until visible flames were extinguished. The fire caused a portion of the trailer’s roof to collapse onto combustible materials that remained smoldering within the trailer, Wilson said. This aided firefighters as it provided ventilation directly above the fires origin. Firefighters entered the trailer and removed debris in order to fully extinguish the smoldering debris.

The cause of the fire is ruled accidental as a result of an unattended gas heating device, Wilson said. No injuries were reported.

Firefighters provide the occupant of the trailer with information on available shelter and support resources within the community.

The Columbus Fire Department strongly cautions against the use of any gas heating device inside of a building or enclosed area. The accumulation of toxic gases, including carbon monoxide gas, can cause serious health hazards.

Firefighters also recommend that any temporary heating device only be used when the device can be monitored. Combustible materials should be kept at least 3 feet away from any heating device.