Tag Archive for: fire fighting

NEMiss.News NAFD firefighter at Hillcrest house fire.


The New Albany Fire Department (NAFD), as well as assisting firemen from Union County fire departments, had a horrendous night last night.

A late night house fire in New Albany brought the shattering experience every fire fighter faces sooner or later: a victim was trapped in the house. Firemen made entry through a window in one end of the house and, fortunately, found the single occupant of the house that was trapped.

They were able to remove the 63-year-old woman from the flames, but she died a short while later.

It was a tough experience, particularly on some of the younger firemen. It was the first time someone had perished in a New Albany fire in over ten years.

The NAFD has become one of the best trained units in north Mississippi during recent decades, largely through the extraordinary efforts of now-retired New Albany Fire Chief Steve Coker and his successor, New Albany Fire Chief Mark Whiteside..

Coker and Whiteside have overseen extensive training for NAFD firemen as well as hundreds of hours of training for fire crews in Union County’s several volunteer departments. The training has paid off in lower fire insurance rates for property owners and in an enviable record of rescues of folks who would otherwise likely have perished.

But you can’t win every time. Say a prayer for the victim of last night’s fire, her family and friends.

Pray also for our firemen. No firemen were injured removing the victim from the flames last night last night, but all of them are grieving.

Fatal housefire: https://newalbanyunionco.com/deadly-house-fire-saturday-night-takes-life-of-new-albany-woman/




UPDATE, Friday, September 2, 8:47 p.m.

Both the New Albany Fire Department and the Southeast Volunteer Fire Department made the first run on this truck fire early Thursday afternoon. The original vehicle fire was on Abermar Rounds, a street in the Abermar subdivision, located 12-15 minutes from downtown New Albany on Highway 178 East. Part of the Abermar subdivision is within the municipal limits of New Albany, and part of it is not. Thus both NAFD and Southeast respond to fires there.

Fires in motor vehicles can be tricky.

Firemen from the New Albany Fire Department made two runs Thursday, September 1, to put out a fire in the same Honda pickup truck.

NEMiss.News Cow Creek Towing

Cow Creek Towing

The first run about 1 pm was to a subdivision two miles east of Highway 15 on Highway 178. Firemen extinguished the fire — or so they thought — and went back to the fire station.

Cow Creek Towing Company then loaded the damaged pickup onto a flatbed truck and hauled it to Cow Creek’s place of business on Carter Avenue.

However, at about 4 pm Thursday someone observed fire and smoke — a billowing cloud of black smoke — coming again from the same pickup. This time the pickup was about three miles from where it originally caught fire.

Firemen raced to the towing company lot on Carter Avenue. This time they soaked the truck thoroughly. The Honda truck was a total loss.

No firemen or civilians were injured. No information was available about the original cause of the fire.

NEMiss.News Van Atkins fire still billowing morning of 1-22-2001

Editor’s Note:  New Albany Fire Chief Mark Whiteside recalls dramatic details about a fire 21 years ago. National Weather Service records say the temperature was 22-24 degrees F in downtown New Albany when the alarm sounded. The fire had the potential for serious injuries or death for firemen and further destruction downtown. Lessons were learned and practices implemented that make commercial buildings here safer today.

By: Mark Whiteside

Timing is everything. On January 21, 2001, 21 years ago Friday, we were turned out to a general alarm at 2:13 am for reports of a fire at 124 West Bankhead street, which was the Van Atkins Department Store.

First arriving crews reported fire coming from the structure. When I was coming in from the west, I saw fire from the second story back corner. This was the real deal, we were facing a long night, and the radio traffic said, “send help”. The question was asked “Who do you want?” The next statement was, “Everybody, the National Guard if we can get them.” The following explains how timing is the key.

Several of us were putting our airpacks on to go in and fight the fire, when something happened and sent several us to the ground in confusion. A collapse? Some type of explosion? I don’t remember anymore. Bricks all around us, a display case in the street, glass across Bankhead St. cracked, power knocked out in some places in town, and all of us safe. If the fire had happened 3 minutes later, if we had gotten there 3 minutes earlier, we would have been inside, or up the rear exterior stairs. We only speculate what the outcome would have been, but we are thankful we did not have to see what it would have been. We believe we probably would not be here today though.

Not many of us around New Albany Fire Department anymore that went through that night;  some working here now were not even born yet. A downtown fire can be devastating; several over the years — the Rainey, Van Atkins, and more before them. We could have lost so much more that night. We know that. A small alley, a brick wall, kept it from spreading. Left in the rubble, we found what has turned out to be a beautiful mural on the side of a brick wall, and now we have a wonderful park named Cooper Park. We still miss that big old building. Memories of shopping there, our model railroad club upstairs, and a night many of us shared and fought side by side.

No ladder truck back then. We have more equipment now, more tools at our fingertips, But the bottom line with these old buildings is early detection systems, sprinklers, and following codes we now have in place. They could quite possibly mean the difference of fire damage instead of complete loss of our downtown and/or loss of life.

We have, on more than one occasion, pointed to that park and told someone, “That park is why we enforce codes and request fire alarms and automatic fire suppression systems (sprinklers in buildings)”.

I could write more, give more details, more stories of that night, but let the pictures speak also.

The pictured commemorative knife was given to all firefighters on the scene that night.