Houston & Peach

Fire investigator determines cause of Warner Robins apartment blaze

A fire that displaced apartment residents at The Pines on Woodland Trail was caused when burning grease was spilled on a living room couch, a firefighter says.

Deputy Chief William Smith of the Houston County Fire Department said the fire was ruled accidental.

The fire broke out in Unit C of Building 208 just before 5:30 p.m. Monday when a resident was apparently trying to get a pan with burning grease outside and possibly tripped - spilling the burning grease on the couch, Smith said.

“It was a tragic event for him,” said Smith, who investigated the fire. “He lost his pet and a lot of his possessions.”

The man’s dog perished from smoke inhalation, Smith said.

A woman and her daughter suffered minor cuts escaping out a sliding glass door that was broken out, Smith said.

In all, there were eight units in the building. All suffered smoke and some water damage. Unit C also had fire damage.

Gail Kendrick was getting ready to head to the store when she smelled smoke in her kitchen.

When she walked out the door, she saw flames coming from the front window of the apartment next to hers and her neighbor running out the door screaming.

His dog was still inside and he was trying to get it to come outside, but it did not.

Other tenants helped break the sliding glass door of another tenant to get her out, Kendrick said.

“We just tried to get everybody out of the building,” she said.

Most of the tenants were able to move to other apartments in the complex. The Red Cross also provided temporary housing.

Smith said only two of the tenants had renter’s insurance. He encouraged people to purchase renter’s insurance, which he said is relatively inexpensive.

Smith said the best way to handle a grease fire is to cover it with a lid.