Firefighters say historic homes are harder to save - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Firefighters say historic homes are harder to save

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Savannah Fire investigators are still trying to figure out what sparked the fire that caused a duplex on East 38th and Lincoln streets to go up in flames.

Crews battled the Thursday early morning house fire where seven people lived. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Investigators believe the fire started in the back room of the house.

Investigators said the house was engulfed in flames when crews arrived early Thursday morning. Since this is one of the historic homes in the area, the house went up in flames very quickly.

Firefighters say they have to tackle historic house fires with even more aggression, continuously doing what they call 360 degree inspections of the home, basically circling the house, and also using thermal imaging cameras.

One of the residents said he was thankful everyone made it out safely, but he was in shock as he watched the fire take over the house.

"When I came and I discovered it was in the back of the apartment, there were flames in the downstairs, and then it started spreading real quick from downstairs to upstairs, where we live at," said Michael Kirkland.

The Red Cross is helping all seven of the people who have been displaced.

Investigators say this is the second time in the last couple of months a historic home on this street has caught on fire.

Firefighters say some of these homes were built more than 100 years ago and many of them were not built with fire breaks in the walls.

"Because of the way the buildings are constructed, that fire can move up a floor and into another wall," said Mark Keller, Savannah Fire Spokesperson.  

Fire fighters say this is what happened to a historic home on east 38th Street. The fire started in the back of the duplex, quickly spreading to other areas of the house. By the time fire fighters got there, the house was engulfed in flames.

"They call it chasing fire because that's what they are doing," said Keller.  

Keller says it's hard to contain fires in these older homes that don't have fire breaks which are materials that are inside the walls and floors that help stop fires from spreading.

Virginia Mobley has lived in a historic house her entire life and was shocked to see another house on her street catch fire. She says even though her home is old, she keeps it up to date.

"We keep the wiring updated and the gas lines updated and things like that," said Mobley.  

Even for folks who rent, talk to your landlord and make sure there are no fire hazards. Also, make sure you have an emergency plan if there is a fire.

"If you got out of the house and you were not with your parents, where would you go?" said Mobley.  

Fire fighters say you can contact an architect or a contractor to find out if you are able to install firebreaks in your home.

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