Jacksonville family lost everything in mobile home fire: Lessons learned and tips to make your home safer

The family believes the fire started near an electrical outlet in the kitchen.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Pratt family recently lost everything inside their mobile home after a fire broke out on Friday.

“You could see the flames coming out the window,” Ginger Pratt said. “It was scary. I didn’t know what to do. I was already like you know I know I’m pregnant I got to get out the house.”

The expecting mother awoke from a nap to find her home filled with flames.

“Got a bunch of stuff from a baby registry and a whole bunch of new clothes and diapers and stuff,” Pratt said. “That’s all pretty much gone.”

Pratt believes the fire started near an electrical outlet in her kitchen. The fire extinguisher was underneath their sink in that room, so she said she wasn’t able to access it.

“We had recently just got the fire extinguisher,” Pratt said. “At first, I was thinking ‘where is it?’ ‘where is it?’ and there was no way to get to it at all.”

The State Fire Marshal has closed the case and deemed the fire “accidental.” Action News Jax requested the full report and we’re waiting to hear back.

Action News Jax reporter Meghan Moriarty asked Pratt if she had an advice for other families.

“Make sure you know where everything is,” Pratt said. “Don’t have any doors blocked.”

Pratt’s family is currently staying in a hotel, receiving help from the Red Cross. If you feel compelled to help, they also have a GoFundMe page set up here.

Action News Jax asked the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department for the number of structure fires in 2020 and a breakdown of the different types:

  • 411 building fires (excludes confined fires)
  • 92 cooking fires
  • 12 structure fires (other than in a building)
  • 17 mobile home fires
  • 13 trash/rubbish fires
  • 5 chimney/flue fires
  • 3 motor home/camper fires
  • 1 fuel burner/boiler fire (delayed ignition or malfunction with no flame damage to structure)

“Mostly what we deal with is electrical issues. Some of the biggest problems for electrical issues are taking an air conditioning unit, such as a window unit, and running a long extension cord that’s not rated for the amperage and power that that AC unit is going to pull out,” Captain Eric Prosswimmer, with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, said. “Therefore, it heats up the extension cord, can melt it, and therefore cause a fire.”

He adds that another common cause is overloading extension cords with different devices. He suggests not plugging portable heaters or air conditioning units into extension cords.

Another good tip for families is to have a fire plan and make sure your smoke detectors are working.

“Have an escape plan. Tell everybody,” Prosswimmer said. “Then have a meeting point outside of the house. That’s a standard. Pick a tree across the street or something that everybody in the house knows that’s where you meet to get out.”