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Woman, children unharmed after minivan catches fire

Women, children escape unharmed

By Matthew Strother

mstrother@civitasmedia.com

A LaGrange firefighter works to put out a fire Tuesday afternoon that burned the inside of a minivan outside the LaGrange Housing Authority leasing office on Chatham Street. Two women and three children who in the vehicle when started smoking escaped uninjured.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/web1_web0330VanFire-2.jpgA LaGrange firefighter works to put out a fire Tuesday afternoon that burned the inside of a minivan outside the LaGrange Housing Authority leasing office on Chatham Street. Two women and three children who in the vehicle when started smoking escaped uninjured. Matthew Strother | Daily News

LaGRANGE — An electrical short burned the inside of a minivan parked at the LaGrange Housing Authority office at 201 Chatham St. about 1 p.m. Tuesday, but three children and two women inside the van escaped uninjured.

The owner of the van, who identified herself as Sherrie Douglas, said she parked to let some of her children check a mailbox, and the van started smoking. Douglas; her mother-in-law, who lives in a housing authority property; and three of her children were inside and escaped.

Douglas said they called 911 and waited for the fire department to arrive. Troup County 911 records show the call was made at 1:03 p.m. and a fire truck arrived at 1:12 p.m.

The fire, which fire officials believe started from electricity arching from a disconnected TV attachment, started smouldering under the headliner of the vehicle, said Lt. Chris Taylor of the LaGrange Fire Department. The burning plastic and materials caused gases to gather between the liner and roof of the vehicle, which suddenly burst into flame, said Taylor, who was one of the firefighters to respond.

Firefighters briefly doused the fire to extinguish it. Taylor said the fire caused an estimated $800 damage to the headliner, seat and paint on the roof of the car. He said it is likely salvageable, but that would be up to Douglas’ insurance to determine.

Douglas said most of the property in the van was children’s toys and the damage to the vehicle was the biggest loss.

“I don’t know how I’m going to get around,” she said.

Douglas said the minivan is insured, but the fire leaves her without a vehicle to use during the day. The family’s other vehicle is primarily used by the children’s father, who works 12-hour shifts at the Sewon America manufacturing plant.

Matthew Strother is the editor of LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2153.