Firefighters respond to Sigma Pi Fraternity House fire

Tuesday, July 22, 2008 | 9:15 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Firefighters were called to the Sigma Pi fraternity house at 808 Providence Road for a commercial structure fire at 4:22 p.m. Tuesday, according to a news release issued by the Columbia Fire Department.

A fire truck arrived within five minutes after the Fire Department received the emergency call and reported light smoke coming from the building.

It took firefighters 10 minutes to get the fire under control with an extinguisher. Respondents to the scene included several chief officers, the news release said.

Even though eight residents are staying in the greek house this summer, only three were home when resident Paul Ballegeerreturned from class, Battalion Chief Gary L. Warren, Jr. said. Ballegeer noticed smoke coming from the back of the house on the east side and immediately ran inside to tell the other residents.

Ballegeer then grabbed an extinguisher as the smoke detector began sounding and moved toward the kitchen where the fire was located, according to the news release. He attempted to extinguish the fire, and knocked it down, but the blaze came back.  During this time another resident, Chris Schuck, called 911.

As the four residents evacuated the house, resident Zach Thompson tried one last time to extinguish the fire, but was forced out of the kitchen by smoke as the extinguisher ran out of agent, according to the news release.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. However, the fire originated in the kitchen on or near the stove. Initial damage estimates are $10,000 to the structure and contents according to the news release. No one was injured.      

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