RICHLAND — A Richland resident died Thursday afternoon in a structure fire that’s cause is still under investigation.
Susan Pool, 43, the occupant of a mobile home at 5 Gerdon Drive, was discovered dead upon a search of the residence, according to Oswego County Fire Coordinator Don Forbes. Pool’s death marks the second fire-related casualty in a weeklong span in Oswego County after Theresa Reynolds, 47 died in a Mexico house fire on the 23rd. Another house fire in Hannibal Thursday morning sent one person to the hospital.
Forbes said firefighters battled the Gerdon Drive fire for about an hour being the flames were extinguished. The Oswego County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene as well as volunteer fire departments from Richland, Ringgold, Orwell, Sandy Creek, Lacona and Mexico.
The Richland fire is the latest in a string of fires across the region, several of which resulted in fatalities and injuries.
Forbes said wood stoves and chimneys in poor condition are potential fire starters that have presented problems for area fire departments. He urged residents to make sure woodstoves and chimneys are well kept and to make sure residents have working smoke detectors and an exit plan.
Oswego County Sheriff Don Hilton said in light of three fatal fires in a one-month span, the sheriff’s office is urging residents to check their smoke detectors to ensure they’re in working order. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms.
The Fire Administration urges property owners to test alarms monthly, and for most alarms replace batteries at least once each year and replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.
Oswego Fire Department Chief Randy Griffin said more fire deaths occur in winter when people are heating their homes. He said the hours between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., when most people are asleep, are particularly dangerous.
“We have not solved the fire problem,” Griffin said. “A lot of times we look at issues in a monocular fashion. Like now active shooter is the big thing. Yes, we’re confronted with new threats but we haven’t solved the old threats.”
Griffin said that fires in newer structures are burning faster and hotter because of the way they’re built. Between larger rooms in which smoke can gather and the plush material of modern furniture, fires can gain energy faster than in the past.
Griffin echoed Forbes and Hilton’s sentiment about the importance of smoke detectors. He also stressed to not leave open flames or lit cigarettes unattended and to avoid storing flammable material near heaters.
A number of fires in Oswego have started when people run out of counter space and begin putting things on top of stoves and then accidentally igniting it.
Pool owned the 5 Gerdon Drive property in the town of Richland, according to Oswego County Real Property records. The 1.9-acre lot included a mobile home and detached garage and was assessed at $18,500 dollars for 2019.