by Don Ratzlaff
The Free Press
Emergency responders believe an electrical device or fixture caused a house fire in Hillsboro Friday night that resulted in heat and smoke damage but little structural damage.
Fire Chief Ben Steketee said the two occupants of the rental house at 209 W. Grand, an adult male and his son, told him they heard a popping sound around 10 p.m. They peered into the bedroom at the front of the house and saw flames.
The emergency call came through at 10:02 and the first firefighting unit was on the scene by 10:04, Steketee said.
Within 20 minutes the situation ?was pretty much taken care of.?
Steketee said two firefighters ?jumped out, deployed the hose, went in through the bedroom window and sprayed the water in there, and the fire darkened down almost immediately?meaning there was no visible fire.?
Routine procedures ensued, including a review of the house with a thermal-imaging camera. No other hot spots were found.
Steketee said the front bedroom, the adjacent bathroom to the south, the hallway, living room and a back bedroom sustained smoke and heat damage.
But the kitchen, back porch and laundry area on the main floor, plus the basement and attic, were left relatively unaffected.
Steketee said the fire was hot enough to melt a fiberglass shower stall and a ceiling light fixture in the bathroom next to the front bedroom.
Steketee said he and Deputy Jim Philpott of the Marion County Sheriff?s Department inspected the front bedroom and concluded the fire was likely caused by something that had been plugged into the wall socket.
?It?s hard to tell exactly how many things were plugged in, but it wasn?t the outlet itself?that was all fine,? Steketee said. ?So it was something after the outlet. We did see a power strip, but we couldn?t verify it had been plugged in (when the fire started).?
The house fire capped a busy week for the Hillsboro Fire Department, Steketee said. From Sunday, Feb. 8, through Saturday, the department responded to nine calls.
The calls began with a gas leak Feb. 8. On the 10th the department responded to a brush fire and to a request to set up a landing zone for Emergency Medical Service to assist the victim of a four-wheeler accident.
On the 11th a call came in about a one-vehicle rollover accident and also for a vehicle that slid off the roadway and into a pond.
On the 12th, department responded to a gas leak call that turned out to be a routine Rural Water blowoff.
The house fire occurred on the 13th and on the 14th a squad responded to a mutual-aid call from Marion?s department to help with a grass fire along a railroad right of way.