Some Communities Want Older Mobile Homes Out Of Neighborhoods
Posted November 5, 2002
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A Sampson County mother and her son died early Monday in a fire at their mobile home. Monday night, an elderly man died in his mobile home from a fire.
The mobile homes involved in the two fatal fires were both older models. Now, officials want to get the older mobile homes out of the neighborhood.
Fred Hobbs' mobile home was built in 1964. He said he does not worry about its age if it ever caught fire.
"They are all going to go up in 15, 20 minutes anyway. The brand-new ones burn just as fast as the older ones do," he said.
However, some people believe the older homes are more dangerous.
Cumberland County's Planning Department is working on a plan that could restrict mobile homes built before 1976 from moving in to the county. It believes it is a way to improve the county's look and tax base. More importantly, leaders said it is a safety issue.
"Pre-1976 didn't meet standards set up by HUD (Housing and Urban Development), so we are concerned about that," interim planning director Tom Lloyd said.
Lt. Bruce Morrison, Cumberland's Arson Task Force commander, said there are major differences in the way mobile homes were built before and after 1976. He said since no construction standards were in place, the older ones have thin walls and wood paneling.
"It's real dry like a piece of wood. It's going to burn a lot faster than something with more moisture in it," Morrison said.
Morrison said the newer mobile homes use sheet rock instead of paneling. They have larger windows to escape, smoke detectors and more-fire retardant chemicals. Still, Morrison said there are no guarantees, so he offers everyone the same advice.
"Be careful. That's the main thing. Just be careful," he said.
Moore County has already banned pre-1976 mobile homes. Many other counties are considering similar bans.
Officials with the North Carolina Manufactured Housing Institute do not oppose the idea, because they believe all homes should be built to construction standards.