COLUMBIA – A growing pile of debris formed in the driveway of a duplex at 1013 Scott Blvd. on Friday evening, as emergency responders cleaned up in the aftermath of a destructive fire.
There, a spotlight shined into a gutted garage as six firefighters shoveled out Sheetrock, insulation and the remnants of a white bicycle’s frame, now blackened to a crisp.
Mulija Caldarevic, 22, was asleep in the duplex when the fire started. Her husband, Eldin Caldarevic, 26, was at work. Mulija Caldarevic said she did not hear the fire alarms sounding, and wasn’t aware of the fire until a worker from a nearby construction site pounded on her door and woke her. She raced out the front door only to see flames pouring out of her garage.
The Columbia Fire Department received a call from the construction site at 4:37 p.m. and sent five fire trucks, four staff officers and one ambulance to the scene, according to Fire Department Capt. Eric Hartman. Over half of the duplex was engulfed in flames upon their arrival; approximately 30 minutes later, two more trucks were called after the fire spread into the walls, attic and the attic of the attached duplex. City of Columbia, Boone County and volunteer firefighters were present at the scene.
The construction workers also alerted Malija Caldarevic’s neighbors — Tierney Barnes, 25, and Sean-Patrick Campbell, 27.
“They pounded on our door and told us we had a fire,” Barnes said. “The flames were big enough for me.”
The three tenants of the two duplexes evacuated without any injuries.
The cause of the fire and the exact amount of damage had yet to be determined as Mulija and Eldin Caldarevic stood in a tearful embrace at the top of the driveway, watching as firemen carried out a folded, squeaking piece of metal: their garage door. The interior of the duplex was entirely destroyed.
It was 6:05 p.m., and the reflections of firefighters’ suits were visible in the upstairs windows as they continued to rid the walls of any remaining fire. Below, more firefighters were still using two hoses to completely extinguish smoking debris underneath insulation, now hanging from the top of the garage.
Hartman said he did not know the extent of the damage to the adjoining duplex. The fire department will continue to investigate the cause of the blaze.