Friday, December 11th, 2009
By Margie Wuebker
Celina family safe but loses all belongings in early morning blaze
  A Celina family will be hanging their Christmas stockings elsewhere this year after fire early today destroyed the place they called home.
The blaze at the home of Robert III and Jamie Hampshire, 6954 state Route 118, west of Celina, was called in to 911 at 12:46 a.m. It is one of several reported in the area in recent days.
Celina Fire Department responded to the scene along with firefighters from the Coldwater and Rockford fire departments.
"Flames were coming through the roof when we pulled up," Celina Fire Chief Doug Wolters told The Daily Standard. "And then the roof collapsed into the home making it difficult to get to the flames."
The Hampshires were awake when they apparently smelled smoke and suspicioned something was amiss in the attic. They quickly aroused their three sleeping children and went outside.
Robert Hampshire reportedly attempted to call 911 with a prepaid cell phone but was not successful. He then texted an employee who alerted emergency personnel, according to Wolters.
Five fire trucks and 25 firefighters braved windy and frigid weather conditions while bringing the blaze under control. Water dripping from the trucks quickly froze on the roadway necessitating a call to highway department personnel for salt. Spray from fire hoses quickly froze on turnout gear creating an icy coating for those away from the actual blaze. Fortunately, no one was injured due to slips or falls, according to Wolters.
The majority of firefighters left the scene between 4:30 and 4:45 a.m., although a small contingent remained there an additional three hours to take care of any possible rekindle.
It is not known whether owner Robert Werling of Coldwater has insurance on the home, but the tenants do not have content coverage.
The Hampshires, who lost everything in the blaze, are residing with his parents in Union City. The local American Red Cross was contacted but Wolters does not know whether their services will be needed.
The cause of the fire has not been determined. While the dollar loss also has not been determined, the fire chief described the damage as heavy.
Mendon Fire Department was also busy last night.
Fireman went to the home of Nick Carpenter, 10771 Celina-Mendon Road, Mendon, at 7:04 p.m. Thursday after a resident attempted to thaw out frozen pipes.
Fire Chief Dennis Clay said a person using a propane-fired salamander accidentally set insulation beneath the house on fire. The tool, which has a flame at the tip, blows hot air and can be dangerous in an enclosed space.
"The operator used the salamander and then left for a few minutes," Clay said. "He returned to find smoke and flames."
The blaze was extinguished quickly keeping damage at a minimum. A mutual aid call to Rockford Fire Department was cancelled en route.
"Problems like this happen when the temperatures go down," Clay said. "People just don't realize the danger."
Three trucks and nine firefighters returned to the station in about an hour.
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