Garbage workers put out house fire in county


Ricky Melton was enjoying a morning cup of coffee last Thursday at his home on County Road 610 and didn’t realize a fire was raging outside.

He watched the garbage truck pick up the trash and go on by. But then the truck backed into the driveway. One of the men, Tony McIntosh, had jumped off and was running toward his house. And the driver, Sid Whitehead, was honking the horn, trying to draw his attention.

“We didn’t know what was going on,” Melton said. “But when I got to front porch and opened the door, I realized we had a fire.”

Apparently, a cigarette butt had somehow gotten wedged in the cushion of one of the outside chairs the night before. It had smoldered. And when a breeze kicked up in the morning, it caught.

“The flame had reached up to four feet,” Melton said. “When McIntosh got to the house, I gave him the water hose and he put the fire out. We were five minutes from losing the house. If they hadn’t have seen it and stopped, we would have lost the house because it was about to reach the roof.”

It had been a routine day for Whitehead, the truck driver and his partner. They start running their route around 7:30 a.m. They usually work until 5:30 p.m. Melton’s house was one of 400 houses they would service during the day.

“We saw something out of the ordinary at the house,” Whitehead said. “We backed up. At first, we thought it was a fire pit but then we realized there was a chair that was on fire and it was starting to spread.

“They were surprised. We got them to the door. Tony started running to the house and I started honking the horn.”

McIntosh said the fire was hot and took 10 to 20 minutes to get it out.

“I put the water right in the flames. When I got the flames out, the water on the brick on the side of the house was sizzling,” he said. “We are out on the road everyday and we see a lot of things. But this is the first time we have had something like this.

“You have to pay attention to your surroundings. You never know, the day may come when we need some help.”

Whitehead lives in east Neshoba. He has worked for the county for 4 ½ years. When he is off, he likes to fish and hunt and spend time with his three daughters.

McIntosh is originally from Aberdeen and has worked for the county about a year and a few months. In his off time, he likes to ride four-wheels and spend time at home.

Melton was very appreciative for the county workers’ quick response.

“We are blessed. God is good,” Melton said. “I just don’t know how to thank them. They saved our house. If they hadn’t acted, the house would have been involved by the time the fire department was able to get here.”

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