CALCUTTA - Fire officials breathed a sigh of relief Friday after a fire in a fish tank heater at the Carriage Hill Apartments burned itself out before it could spread to other apartments.
The apartment's tenant, Gretchen Grove, returned home from work to the smell of smoke, and the fire department was called.
Calcutta, Glenmoor and Liverpool Township firefighters arrived on the scene, as did St. Clair Township Patrolman Scott Mick with a fire extinguisher from his cruiser.
An electrical short in a fish tank heater caused a fire Friday in the Carriage Hill Apartments on Purinton Avenue in Calcutta. St. Clair Township Patrolman Scott Mick responded quickly with a fire extinguisher from his cruiser, but the fire had burned itself out without causing any major damage. (Photo by Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert)
They found no fire in the apartment, but discovered the heater had shorted out and ignited but burned out before it could ignite the cabinet on which the fish tank was sitting.
"It could have been really bad. We were lucky," Calcutta fire Capt. Marty Pike admitted, saying if it had ignited the cabinet, "We'd have been fighting something big."
The apartment is located on the first floor of the apartment complex.
Pike said there was a considerable amount of soot generated by the fire but little other damage, except to the heater.
Mick did not have to use the fire extinguisher, according to officials.
All three departments had also been out on a call throughout the early morning hours when they responded to a fire alarm at Kmart about 1:20 a.m.
No fire was apparent, but firefighters remained on the scene until after 3 a.m. when a key holder for the department store arrived.
At 9:22 a.m., all three departments received another call for a diesel fuel spill on state Route 11 that kept them on the scene for nearly four hours.