By Steve Reilly
The Charlotte Sun
ROTONDA, Fla. — A man was burned on his hands and treated at a local hospital after a motorcycle malfunction started a garage fire Saturday.
Firefighters received a call at noon for a garage fire at 249 Mark Twain Lane in Rotonda and arrived within five minutes, according to an Englewood Area Fire Control District report.
However, the home-owners, Ron and Debbie Fread, wonder if Englewood fire-fighters could have arrived a minute or two earlier if their 911 call didn't first have to be routed to Charlotte County then to Sarasota County dispatchers before being relayed to the Englewood fire district.
Debbie praised the Englewood firefighters, saying their response was excellent, very professional and they were skilled at fighting the fire. But she also said she suspects the Englewood fire department might have arrived sooner if it weren't for the complications in routing the 911 call.
'This is something in the future that needs to be addressed,' she said.
When asked about the dispatch and response time, Englewood Fire Chief Scott Lane said Monday, 'We have been working on this.'
The Englewood Area Fire Control District's service area includes only a portion of Rotonda West and Englewood East, Lane said. The boundaries of the fire district can be found at www.englewood-fire.com.
Lane said Charlotte County dispatchers must determine from the information they're provided whether the Englewood fire district or Charlotte County Fire/EMS should respond to a call.
Charlotte County Fire/EMS spokeswoman Dee Hawkins said Monday, "As far as Charlotte County, we have not been made aware of (problems) with Englewood response times in quite some time.
"Has it happened in the past? Absolutely," said Hawkins, who served 12 years as an Englewood fire district commissioner. In that role, Hawkins said she hadn't heard the issue of response time raised at an Englewood fire board meeting in several years.
Charlotte County Fire/EMS will be reviewing the dispatch call from the Freads, Hawkins said.
Englewood firefighters arrived to flames 'rolling out' of the Freads' garage, according to a fire district report. The garage door, the report stated, was already lying on the ground, damaged by the heat of the fire, and the house was filled with smoke. By 2:41 p.m., the fire was extinguished.
No fire damage was discovered in the attic areas nor did the fire spread into the living areas of the home, the report stated.
The Freads were outside the home when firefighters arrived, the report stated. The Red Cross was called and assisted the couple.
Ron suffered some burns on his hands and was treated at Englewood Community Hospital.
According to the report, the Freads told firefighters that Ron had started up their 1998 Honda Gold Wing motorcycle in the garage and went back into his home for a 'couple of minutes.'
The report stated Debbie said she could hear the motorcycle and it "didn't sound right." When the couple went back into the garage, the motorcycle was on fire. Don tried to push the motorcycle out of the garage but couldn't due to the flames, the report stated.
After the fire was out, firefighters inspected the motorcycle and discovered it had a hole in the engine where a piston rod was thrown through the crankshaft.
State fire marshals agreed with Englewood firefighters that the fire was accidental.
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