What started out as an ordinary Tuesday evening lighting the Hanukkah candles, turned awfully wrong when the candle was left unattended and it accidentally fell off the Menorah and onto the couch. In a matter of seconds, the living room had caught flames and the Dickinson Fire Department rapidly put out the flames at 605 Third Ave. West.
At about 4:40 p.m., emergency responders received a call from central Dickinson. Fire Marshal Mark Selle noted that the first crew to arrive had pristine response time and had the fire put out shortly after arrival. There were no injuries, and damage to the home is still being assessed.
“We were told that the homeowner had lit a seasonal candle and they left the room, so (they) let that candle unattended. When (they) came back and checked on it, it had fallen over and started the couch on fire. So it’s important for everybody to remember if you’re going to use Hanukkah candles during the holiday season, to not leave your room where you have that candle and keep an eye on it,” Selle said at the scene. “Being at home isn’t enough. You should stay in that same room.”
Justin Bergum, one of three residents of the home, has lived about five years at the residence. He noted that he tried to put out the flames with an extinguisher, but there was no stopping the flames.
“By the time anything happened, the whole couch was on fire... By then, everything was on fire,” Bergum said, looking at the charred home from across the street which is currently not livable.
Bergum then called authorities immediately and with quick action, the Dickinson Fire Department were at the scene before Bergum got off the phone, he said.
“Everyone’s safe, that’s the main thing,” Bergum said. “As long as I’m standing here talking about it, we’re good.”
Fire personnel assessed the scene checking for the possibility of burning embers inside the roof while Bergum and his roommates waited outside for a verdict.
“They (had) a great response time. The fire department, police department, sheriff’s department and Dickinson Ambulance Service arrived all pretty much simultaneously and worked together. That’s what we do — work together and everything got taken care of quickly,” Dickinson Police Department Sgt. Jeremy Moser said.
Volunteer Assistant Chief Curtis Freeman said that with newer materials in a home, it only takes approximately three and half minutes to become fully engulfed, a sentiment detailed by the Fire Marshal.
“It’s kind of standard with the type of materials that are used in construction for your furniture and everything you have in your home.... It takes just minutes for a whole room to catch on fire and you can see these people who are even in the house and they tried putting it out with an extinguisher and they weren’t able to. It grows very quickly,” Selle said, explaining, “That’s why it’s important to have smoke alarms and things that notify you when that stuff (happens). If this were to happen when they were sleeping, they may not have had an opportunity to get out of the house.”
The Red Cross made contact with the residents and will be assisting them in the days and weeks to follow. As more information becomes available, this story will be updated.