A fire Wednesday afternoon in a trailer on Stephen Richards Memorial Drive totaled the residence of a senior couple, and the woman may require skin grafts to her left hand after suffering second- and third-degree burns.
"Given the location and nature of the burns, it is probable that grafting will be required," said Marijo Toner, regional affairs coordinator for Bartlett Regional Hospital.
But this morning, Jennie Carpenter, 73, was not thinking about herself. "I have been worried about Muffin all night," she said.
Muffin is Carpenter's Yorkie/poodle mix, a tan dog with a long tail, who has been missing since the fire. Muffin is wearing a purple collar with license attached. "I have the neighbors looking for her," Carpenter said.
Capital City Fire & Rescue responded to a 911 call from Carpenter at 1:23 p.m. about her Glacier View Trailer Court home.
"On arrival we had a lot of gray smoke showing, no visible fire," said Capt. Jerry Godkin. "When we went inside with the attack crews, there was a lot of heat, and fire visible in the living room and kitchen."
The fire began in the kitchen and spread, Godkin said. The trailer had two additions, one on either side, but fire damage to them was only slight. However, the Carpenters had no insurance.
Godkin estimated the trailer damage at $50,000 with damage to contents at $25,000. "Heat melted their property," he said.
Carpenter said she was cooking chicken without any problems before the blaze began.
"I went to put a pan of grease on. It got on fire," she said. "Instead of thinking to put a lid on it, I panicked. I threw the pan into the sink and it caught my curtain - and then it went."
She attempted to put out the fire, burning her hands.
"We tried to take her to Bartlett, but she refused," Godkin said. "We got a friend to take her." Carpenter was treated for two hours and then released.
Donald and Jennie Carpenter had lived in the trailer since 1979 when they moved here from Washington state.
When firefighters arrived on scene, Carpenter was outside with her son Gary's dog, a pug. Her husband, Donald, 72, a retired janitor with the school district, was at The Bridge, a Catholic Community Service program for seniors where he has lunch several times a week. Both the Carpenters suffer from diabetes, and Donald has been blind since a stroke three or four years ago.
"Firefighters were able to save the pug," said incident commander Capt. Max Mielke. "We had medics ready to do treatment on the other animal, but we never did find it, even during salvage operations."
The Carpenters are now staying with their son Gary and his wife, Nancy, while they decide what to do next.
"I have been sitting here thinking and crying at the same time," Jennie Carpenter said this morning. "After I get in to see what I can salvage, we are going to have to find a furnished place to live, and probably I have to get that trailer out of there. That will cost at least $1,000."
Carpenter probably will need skin grafts on her left hand, but her right is less severely burned. She was trying to look on the bright side this morning.
"I have bowling to finish up Sunday, and my right hand is my bowling hand."
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at email@example.com.
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