Fire damages south Columbia home, cause remains unknown

Friday, August 24, 2012 | 9:55 p.m. CDT; updated 3:11 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 25, 2012
The Boone County and Columbia Fire Departments responded to a house fire Friday afternoon on Stanwood Drive. No one was injured.

*UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect the extent of the damage to the home and the origin of the fire.

COLUMBIA — Fifty percent of the house was in flames with firefighters responded to a fire at a south Columbia home on Friday afternoon.

Those 26 firefighters from both Columbia and Boone County Fire departments were alerted by neighbors of smoke and flames coming from the roof of the home.

Chief Gale Blomenkamp with the Boone County Fire Protection District said the fire caused an estimated $300,000 in damage and that it is suspected the fire began on the deck area before spreading to the rest of the property.*

Homeowners Joel and Debbie Shenker and their children Rachel, 17, and Ben, 14, have lived at 7004 Stanwood Drive since 2005.

“It’s all just stuff,” Joel Shenker, a neurology professor at MU, said. “The important thing is that no one was hurt.”

No family members were home when the fire started and a neighbor removed the owners' two dogs, Rosie and Walley.

The firefighters responded within eight minutes, which allowed them to contain the fire quickly. “We’re blessed the fire didn’t reach the trees,” Columbia Fire Chief James Weaver said. “It would have been a mess.”

About 50 neighbors gathered outside the scene to comfort the family and watch the fire crews attempt to stifle the fire.

Nearby neighbors Ted and Marilyn Mottaz said the fire was especially frightening because "the ground is so dry."

The houses on either side of the Shenker residence sustained heat damage.

Weaver said the cause of the fire could not be determined until the fire was out. Then, investigators could begin to survey the damage.

Rachael Brown contributed to this report.

Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani.

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