RCFD demonstrates how one small item could save a home during a fire

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The point of origin for a residential fire in the Red Rock Meadows area two weeks ago has been determined, and you may be surprised where it started. Black Hills FOX's Jon Wilson has details on that, and brings you to a demonstration conducted by the Rapid City Fire Department.

Two weeks ago Thursday, this fire took over a home on the southwest side of Rapid City. While the actual cause is unknown, firefighters have determined the blaze originated in a potted plant.

RCFD Public Information Officer Jim Bussell says, "There are two factors that are believed to have been involved. First, the lack of acceptable fuel moisture in the potted plant, and secondly, potentially, discarded smoking materials."

Rapid City Fire Department Assistant Chief Tim Behlings says it's important to know what happens inside a potted plant, and exactly what potting soil is composed of.

RCFD Division Chief Tim Behlings says, "We get the fall temperatures where it's a little bit hotter during the day, the sun's beating down on those pots, it can continue to decompose. As it's decomposing, it's generating heat. Secondarily, these particular pots are also susceptible to discarding smoking materials, and often times, people unknowingly discard smoking materials into them believing that it's dirt, and it's not going to extinguish it. It simply provides an ignition point."

The Rapid City Fire Department also stressed the importance of fire sprinklers in homes, and conducted a demonstration to show how fire spreads in two virtually identical rooms. Virtually identical with one small difference, one side was equipped with a fire sprinkler system.

Behlings says, "From the time this fire ignited until the time that the room was completely involved was 2 minutes and 20 seconds. We would hope that people are out of their house in 90 seconds and making that call to 911. All of that damage occurred before the call was ever made to the fire department."

Fire sprinklers are activated by heat, and can mean the difference between a total loss and being back in the home later that day.

Behlings says, "Understanding that it's 1-3 minutes to make that call, once we get the call you're going to be roughly be about 4-6 minutes for a fire engine to get to the scene. You're already at 7-10 minutes roughly, and this thing happened in 2 minutes and 20 seconds."