May 2, 2013

Two Residents Rescued From House Fire Near Memphis



Police lines surround all that is left of the Marilyn Cowell residence east of Memphis after a Friday night fire destroyed the home.

Emergency service personnel had a busy Friday evening in Scotland County, rescuing a couple from a burning building, dealing with a drug overdose and trying to extinguish two fires at the same time.

The silence was broken at 7:27 p.m. when a 911 call went into the Clark County Sheriff's office as a motorist driving past the Marilyn Cowell residence on Highway 15 east of Memphis reported seeing smoke coming from the structure.

Memphis Police officer Jason Ketchum responded to the call.

"I had not made very far out of city limits when I was able to verify the emergency," Ketchum said, reporting the smoke was clearly visible from town.

When he arrived on the scene, Ketchum reported the garage was fully engulfed by fire and flames had already begun spreading to the rest of the residence. He joined the efforts of Mike Alley and Travis McCracken of Capital Electric to try to gain access to the home as Cowell and Paul Forrester were believed to still be inside the residence. The two contractors had been traveling to do work on a nearby cooperative substation when they spotted the fire and stopped.

Neighbor Keri Hinds was also on the scene at this time and she praised the efforts of the men.

"I spotted the fire out of my window," Hinds stated. "I think the two contractors were the first ones on the scene. Their efforts were definitely crucial in helping rescue Marilyn and Paul."

As the first fire truck arrived on the scene, Scotland County Sheriff's Deputy Bryan Whitney, Memphis Police Chief Bill Holland, and Scotland County Ambulance Director Jason Moss all entered the home to try to locate the two individuals.

Holland indicated the rescuers were in the house only for a moment before making contact with Cowell, who was exiting the home. Forrester reportedly exited the fire scene moments later.

"When she told us that he was still inside and had been near the back porch, we thought the worst, because that part if the house was fully engulfed by the fire," Holland said.

Forrester was able to exit the building and both he and Cowell were treated by the Scotland County Ambulance for smoke inhalation. They later were transported by private vehicle to Scotland County Hospital and were treated and released that evening.

The fire department's efforts to battle the blaze were hampered by an undisclosed propane source in the basement. The home's heating supply was disconnected by emergency responders, but the second tank was not, and the gas fueled the fire from the inside, ultimately making the structure unstable.

Law enforcement and ambulance personnel responding to help at the fire scene were diverted to deal with a drug overdose in Memphis. One individual was hospitalized but no additional information was available at press time.

While battling the house fire, a second fire was reported in Memphis city limits. At 7:59 p.m. the dispatcher was notified of a camper that was on fire at the Gary and Cindy Aldridge residence at 130 Sigler Street.

A fifth-wheel camper that was being set up for houseguests, caught fire. A number of firemen on scene at the Cowell blazed were forced to return to Memphis. A Gorin fire truck that was responding to aid the Scotland County Department at the Cowell fire, instead travelled on to Memphis and aided fighting the camper fire.

The camper sustained extensive damage in the blaze. A cause of the fire had not been determined as of Monday.

The emergency service personnel returned the fire scene on Highway 136 after extinguishing the camper fire. The fire departments were on the scene at the Cowell residence until 9:34 p.m. The residence was a total loss.

The Missouri State Fire Marshall's office was on scene Monday to investigate but the cause of the blaze was listed as undetermined.

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