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Cause of Windsor Street house fire unknown

Saturday, September 10, 2011 | 5:35 p.m. CDT; updated 5:45 p.m. CDT, Saturday, September 10, 2011
Firefighter Ben Caszatt sprays a hose into the smoking remains of a house on 1407 Windsor St. on Saturday. The fire occurred around 1:00 Saturday morning, and its cause is under investigation.

COLUMBIA — A Saturday morning house fire at 1407 Windsor St. left the property with smoke escaping from the caved-in roof.

Firefighters in safety hats stood in the front yard, which was scattered with rusty debris and a toppled chair.

Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said the house had been abandoned and scheduled for demolition last week.

The fire department received a 1:01 a.m. dispatch from a pedestrian , who reported seeing flames emerging from the roof. 

Responders arrived within five minutes. Twelve vehicles, including three fire engines and a ladder truck, reported to the scene.

Lights from the fire trucks woke neighbors. Mike Keenan, who lives three houses from 1407, first noticed the trucks and then noticed the aggressive flames.

“The fire trucks were lighting up the whole block,” Keenan said. “It looked like a disco in my house. Then I saw 30- to 40-foot flames over the trees.” 

Firefighters attempted to put out the fire and continued “babysitting” spot fires throughout the morning and early afternoon, Sapp said.

Zach McAllister, who lives across from the house, said the fire drew neighbors from their homes and that crowds of curious pedestrians gathered along the sidewalks.

“At one point, the entire (Stephens College Children’s School) parking lot was full of people,” McAllister said. “You could feel the heat, and everyone was watching the firemen shooting from every angle.”

Sapp said the damage is too dangerous for the investigator to properly assess, but no people or neighboring houses were affected by the fire. 

“There’s no reason to suspect arson,” Sapp said. “But there’s no reason not to suspect (arson). It’s just too unsafe to get into the building for further investigation.”

Firefighters demolished the house early this afternoon, and the vacated owner will be responsible for the rest of the destruction. 


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