City fire damage nears $4M for 2014

Published 9:43 am Friday, January 16, 2015

Fires caused an estimated $3.7 million in damage to property in Vicksburg last year.

Vicksburg Fire Department estimates losses related to vehicle, structure and outdoors fires at $3,790,673, Fire Chief Charles Atkins told Port City Kiwanis during their Thursday morning meeting.

“That’s just in the city,” Atkins said.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The estimate is the result of 149 fires, including 52 structures that suffered heavy losses, Fire Inspector Leslie Sanders said.

“It’s just a rough estimate, because we may say you have $2,000 in loss but your insurance value is going to be double that,” Sanders said. “The value is going to be different between the field appraisal from the tax collector, which we go by, and what the insurance is.”

Excluding ambulance runs, VFD responded to 3,680 fire calls in 2014, Atkins said. December ambulance figures are still being tabulated, but total fire department responses are estimated at 10,500, he said. Many of the ambulance runs are transfers to and from hospitals and nursing homes. The ambulance service also responds to calls outside Vicksburg city limits.

The county pays the city $146 per ambulance run. Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. has indicated he wants to renegotiate the contract with the county.

The department has four ambulance crews on shift every day, Atkins said. Firefighters work a 24-hour shift and eat and sleep at one of the city’s fire stations.

“Anytime during that shift we can put together at least three more ambulances to accommodate whatever we’re going though,” Atkins said.

Cooking remains the leading cause of home fires and fire deaths, Sanders said.

“They put food on the stove and for whatever reason they sit down and go to sleep. Or worse yet, they go get in the bed and go to sleep,” Sanders said. “They wake up with the house fully involved in fire and smoked up so bad they can’t get out.”

No fire deaths were reported in Vicksburg for 2014, but in 2013 two people were killed in kitchen fires.

One fatal fire was reported in Warren County this year, and the cause was ruled as electrical, which is the second leading cause of home fires.

“People still want to tie in 20 cords to one outlet and run 15 appliances,” Sanders said.