Fire destroys central city home just after owners left for vacation

Sunday, July 22, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:31 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A central Columbia home was destroyed by fire Saturday morning just after the occupants had left for a family vacation.

Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said the first calls reporting the fire came from neighbors who saw flames in the house, located at 509 Banks Ave. Firefighters found no one inside the home and fought the fire from inside the house as well as with equipment over the roof. Sapp said around 20 firefighters responded to the call.

“It was a very intense fire in the roof, garage and living areas,” Sapp said.

Sapp said the Fire Department is still investigating the cause of the fire. He said that the damage was so extensive it was unknown if smoke detectors were present in the home, but they probably wouldn’t have made a difference.

“When no one is in the house, the detectors’ role can be minimized since they seldom can be heard outside,” he said.

The Fire Department estimated that the house is a total loss, according to a news release. Sapp said that while they are still trying to figure out how much damage was done, damages will likely reach $100,000.

Three cars in front of the house and siding on a house next door were also damaged from the heat.

Sapp said the family was contacted by neighbors and returned as firefighters finished extinguishing the fire and were cleaning up.

The family is staying with family members in Columbia.

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