House near Harrisburg destroyed by fire

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 | 4:23 p.m. CST; updated 7:46 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Firefighters faced a special challenge getting water to the fire at a house on Route J where the nearest fire hydrant was a mile away.

COLUMBIA — A fire destroyed a home in Harrisburg on Wednesday afternoon. No one was injured, though a Christmas puppy didn't survive the blaze.

Boone County Fire Protection District Chief Gale Blomenkamp said the house was a total loss and required a “tanker shuttle operation” because the closest fire hydrant was a mile away from the house, which is on Route J near its intersection with West Richland School Road. The operation required tankers to fill two large yellow tubs of water to supply the hoses.

“One of the issues we deal with anytime we’re in this type of setting is water supply," Blomenkamp said.

Firefighters had to take extra precautions approaching the house because of a 100-pound propane tank at the back of the house.

The owner of the house, Michael Bopp, and his 10-year-old son were not home during the fire, but their new puppy was trapped inside and died. “I just wish I had been home when it started,” Bopp said.

A plume of smoke could be seen from four miles away on Route J. Thirty-three firefighters, five tankers, two engines and one University Hospital emergency medical unit responded to the fire.

A passerby reported the fire.

Blomenkamp said the cause of the fire was still under investigation, but its origin was in the basement of the house. The assessed value of the house is $113,900, according to the Boone County Assessor's website.

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