St. Clair County firefighters battled five different fires in the freezing weather Saturday, as of 10:30 p.m.
Fires in Dupo, Fairview Heights, Freeburg, Centreville and New Athens kept metro-east firefighters busy throughout the day. At least three of the fires were in trailer homes, two of which began when owners tried to thaw frozen pipes in the home.
Two of the homes were total losses, but no injures were reported as of Saturday evening.
Saturday began with a fire in the 6800 block of Old Missouri Avenue near Centreville just after midnight. The home was a total loss, according to Camp Jackson Fire Department. Multiple fire departments assisted in the call.
At about 3 p.m., the fire rekindled.
A Camp Jackson firefighter said the rekindle occurred due to the structure of the property. Floors were built on top of floors and ceilings over ceilings, preventing firefighters from reaching certain areas of the house.
When the fire rekindled, firefighters had to return and knock out walls in order to completely extinguish the fire.
At about 1:04 p.m., a double-wide trailer fire at 65 Deerfield Court in Freeburg left a family of eight without a home.
According to Freeburg Fire Department Captain Hans Mueller, the owner of the trailer was attempting to thaw frozen pipes beneath the trailer when it caught fire.
The fire department contained the fire to the trailer, but it spread quickly throughout the older home.
“The water pipes are underneath trailers, and there’s no heat under there, so they’re susceptible to freezing,” Mueller said. “A method of keeping them from freezing is heat tape around the water pipes, but that causes fires a lot of times because the tape will short out.”
Mueller said at this time of year, trailer fires are more common because it can be difficult to keep everything working properly due to heating and water problems. Older homes are also more susceptible to these issues.
“We’ve been really busy the past couple weeks. There have been structure fires here and in New Athens and Smithton,” he said. “Make sure your equipment is in good shape, and when doing maintenance, be very careful.”
A fire at about 4 p.m. in New Athens was also caused by electrical problems at a trailer located on Elizabeth Street. New Athens Fire Department said the fire turned out to be “very minor.”
Sandy Dickerson, who lives next door to the residence, said the owners were doing updates on the unoccupied home when a small electrical fire broke out. Dickerson said the fire department was called as a precaution, and the residents put out the fire with extinguishers.
At about 4:50 p.m., the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency posted on its Facebook page that there was an explosion and large debris fire near O’Fallon.
Fairview Heights Fire Department responded to the call near Ruby Lane in Fairview Heights but was unavailable for comment.
Fire departments also responded to a trailer fire at about 5:20 p.m on Brooke Drive in Dupo. According to Bob Smitt with Dupo, the fire was small and did not destroy the trailer. Smitt said the occupant was trying to thaw his frozen water pipes.