Fire destroys family’s first home

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 29, 2002

On the curb at 803 Union Street sat a pile of old housewares — a mattress, an old TV set and a coffee-maker box.

Sunday afternoon, the curb was filled with neighbors who watched as the new home of Cynthia Armalin and Kelvin Blalock burned from within.

“We were moving in next week,” said Armalin about she and her financ, Blalock. “We’re moving back from Florida.”

The house actually belonged to Blalock’s mother, who recently passed away. Blalock had rented the home to a tenant, who had obviously just moved out in preparation for the new family’s arrival.

“I’m not sure what we’re going to do now,” Armalin said, crying.

According to Capt. Mike Stokes of the Selma Fire Department, severe damage was done to the inside of the home.

“There was major damage to one bedroom and heavy smoke and water damage throughout the house,” Stokes said.

At 1:15 p.m. Sunday, four units from the fire department were called to the Union Street home. Within two minutes, two units had already responded. Stokes, the third unit to respond, arrived at 1:18 p.m.

That expedient response from the Selma Fire Department may have saved extensive damage both to the house and 803 Union Street and the house to the right of the burning home.

“That house next door to the right was about four feet away, and the fire was bad on that side of the house,” Stoke said.

Firefighters battled the blaze in temperatures that neared 100 degrees — on the outside. At one point, Robin King, a Selma firefighter, hiked up a ladder to ventilate the attic using an ax. When Stokes asked him if there was fire still inside, King shouted that it was too hot to look.

Two hours later, the fire department extinguished the blaze.

“From what we can tell, it looks like the motor of a ceiling fan caught fire,” Stokes said.

After the electrical fire, a piece of plywood in the attic caught fire and fell onto the main floor of the house, causing the blaze to spread.

“I’m not sure what you can do to prevent these things,” Stokes said. “If you’ve got any kind of electrical motor in the attic, make sure to have them serviced once a year.”

No foul play is suspected in the fire.