Public Safety

Two house fires displace six adults, two children but no injuries

One was a chimney fire; the other is under investigation

Firefighters work in a firetruck at the Cedar Rapids Fire Department main station in Cedar Rapids on Friday, March 27, 2
Firefighters work in a firetruck at the Cedar Rapids Fire Department main station in Cedar Rapids on Friday, March 27, 2020. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Two house fires Wednesday displaced six adults and two children. All the residents got out safely or were not home at the time, and nobody was injured, according to Cedar Rapids fire officials.

Firefighters responded to the first blaze at 6:34 p.m. in a three-story house at 359 17th St. SE and found heavy fire showing on the exterior of the home, Battalion Chief Jason Andrews said in a news release. Crews quickly used hose lines in both the exterior and interior of the house. The exterior fire was extinguished, but it extended to the interior through the eaves and adjoining walls.

Two more engines were called because of the size of the house and difficulty accessing hidden fire in the walls, according to Andrews’ report.

The main part of the blaze was brought under control within 30 minutes, but crews remained on the scene for over two hours to perform an extensive overhaul and remove smoke from the structure, according to the report

Four adults lived in the home, the report said.

The house had working smoking alarms, Andrews noted, but he didn’t release additional information regarding the cause. The fire remains under investigation.

Cedar Rapids police and Area Ambulance Service assisted at the scene.

In the second blaze, firefighters were dispatched at 11:20 p.m. for a reported attic fire in a split-foyer house at 1560 Havenwood Ct. NE, according to Andrews’ fire report. The residents, two adults and two children, got out of the house as the 911 call was made. Firefighters found heavy fire on the exterior near and around the chimney.

Crews initially attacked the fire from the exterior and then moved inside the house and focused on the walls and attic near and around the chimney. Fire crews had the blaze under control within 10 minutes. Tarps were then used to protect the residents’ belongings from water and debris.

Andrews, in the report, said it was a chimney fire and was determined to be unintentional.

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Fire officials and the city’s Building Services division wanted to remind residents and business owners of important chimney safety tips, now with that temperatures are colder and more fireplaces are being used for the first time in many months.

Safety tips:

-Annual inspection and cleaning of the chimney is recommended. Neglected chimneys can accumulate creosote- combustible byproduct of charred wood — along the walls.

-Keep the front area of the fireplace clear of paper, debris and decorations.

-Use a mesh screen in front of fireplace if it doesn’t have glass door.

-Keep area near chimney clear. Leaves and branches should be at least 15 feet away.

-Be sure to secure tarps on roofs. Some homes and businesses may have tarps on the roof because of storm damage, and with the recent winds those may have moved or torn and could be covering exhaust pipes and chimney vents.

-Make sure no debris is blocking the chimney because carbon monoxide can accumulate inside a home or building.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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