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UPDATE: Columbia duplex fire displaces occupants

Saturday, November 12, 2011 | 7:14 p.m. CST
Firefighters drag a hose up on the roof of 2904 Bluegrass Court to work on putting out hot spots after extinguishing the main fire Saturday. The owners were not home. The smoke spread to the adjoining unit 2906 and Adele Lewis and Ron Hodges, who were in the unit, were evacuated unharmed.

COLUMBIA — A fire in an empty unit of a duplex Saturday afternoon caused at least $50,000 in damage and two people in its adjoining unit to evacuate.

The Columbia Fire Department was alerted to the fire at 12:33 p.m. at 2904 Bluegrass Court, Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said. Firefighters saw heavy smoke rising from the roof and the back of the unit and evacuated two people in the connected unit as standard procedure.

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The residents of 2904, who were not home at the time, returned at about 1:30 p.m., according to a Columbia Fire Department media release.

The owners told fire investigators they had started a small fire in their chiminea on their deck in the morning and had left to go shopping. The owners thought the fire had been extinguished because they had poured two cups of water on the burning wood, according to the release.

The residents will be relocated to temporary housing, Sapp said.

Sapp said no one was injured in the fire, which took about 10 to 15 minutes to put out. The 2904 unit suffered severe fire damage, particularly to the back. 

Three engines, two incident command vehicles, one ladder and a heavy rescue squad were dispatched to the fire, Sapp said. The duplex was equipped with smoke detectors.

A department release stated that primary damage estimates to the structure and contents exceed $50,000.

Assistant Fire Marshal Lt. Debbie Sorrell determined the fire began on a wooden deck in the back of the home after she interviewed the home owners and investigated the scene, according to the release. The fire likely started from moderate wind causing the embers in the chiminea to ignite combustible materials, such as leaves on the deck, according to the release. The fire spread to the wood siding and into the attic.

The homeowners at 2904 were insured, according to the release, and will stay with local relatives. The neighboring residents were allowed to return to the unit.


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