Columbia house ignites from second grill fire

Monday, November 29, 2010 | 10:52 p.m. CST; updated 11:06 p.m. CST, Monday, November 29, 2010
Firefighters examine the damage at a house fire on Sunday in Columbia. According to Fire Captain Eric Hartman, there had been a fire at the residence on Oct. 30 that destroyed the back porch. The resident of the house, Jake Houska, said that they had replaced the porch that day and it was less than five hours old.

This article was modified after speaking with occupants of the home.

COLUMBIA — For the second time, a house on UMC Drive caught fire because of an unattended barbecue grill.

On Sunday night after filling a grill cylinder on the rear deck with coals and lighting a crumbled newspaper underneath them, occupant Jake Houska said he went inside. About five minutes later, he was approached by Kyle Key, another occupant of the house, who said there was a fire.

The flames were almost exclusively in the gutter and on the roof, Houska said.  He added that the deck wasn't on fire and the grill was undamaged.

Another occupant of the house, Logan McGuire, tried putting out the fire with a hose but the flames grew bigger. Key then called 911.  

It took about 15 minutes for the fire department to get the flames under control, and the home sustained significant water, heat and smoke damage, according to a city news release.

The damage is estimated at $25,000, and no injuries were reported.

The residents are receiving emergency assistance from the Columbia-Boone County Chapter of The American Red Cross as a result of the fire.

The home was previously damaged by another fire on Oct. 30. In that fire, the unattended barbecue grill caused a fire that damaged the deck. Repairs to the deck had been completed five hours before the second fire, according to the release.

The fire department offers some tips on its website for how college-aged students can avoid fires in their residence: 

  • Look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.
  • Make sure dormitories or apartments have smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on each level.
  • For the best protection, all smoke alarms should be interconnected so that when one sounds they all sound.
  • When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out of the building quickly and stay out.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
  • Check with the local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbecue grill, fire pit or Chiminea.

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Chris Hill November 29, 2010 | 11:26 a.m.

Don't use a solid-fuel burning appliance on a wooden deck. Duhh.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz November 29, 2010 | 1:00 p.m.

I haven't seen this mentioned in the various media stories, but are the occupants listed in the story the same occupants from the previous fire? Is this a rental house?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking November 29, 2010 | 6:00 p.m.

It is a rental house, and while I haven't seen this in print anywhere, they're likely to be the same occupants (students, same semester, likely lease, etc.).


(Report Comment)
Jake Houska November 29, 2010 | 11:29 p.m.

The fire originated in the gutter, according to the Fire Dept. It was a charcoal grill. The deck, grill and coal cylinder were all untouched by flames.

I stood on the deck with five firemen immediately after the fire - it is still sturdy. This information led their preliminary conclusion to be that the wind blew an ember from the metal cylinder used to light charcoal into the gutter, igniting the leaves.

It was not an "unattended grill." We just lit the coals and walked inside because it was like 30 degrees out. Nobody stands and stares at charcoal while it lights.

Yes, we are the same occupants from the previous fire. The previous fire involved a coal falling through the bottom of a broken grill approx. 4 hours after use. Just clearing things up so we don't look as stupid.

Oh yeah, I also live(d) there.

(Report Comment)
T C November 30, 2010 | 12:27 p.m.
This comment has been removed.

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