PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — Multiple fire departments battled large flames at the house near 72nd and Cedardale in Papillion Friday night. Firefighters had to keep themselves safe in the bitter cold temperatures.
Papillion Fire Chief, Bill Bowes, said the home owner was the only person who lived at that house which is now unlivable. He also said while fighting fires in the cold can be trick, last night's winter weather made battling the flames even harder.
“We were watching TV, we noticed lots of red and blue lights from our room and we realized it wasn't a police car it was a fire truck,” said neighbor, Michael Jones. “the house burst, the windows made a big boom and started to set the tree on fire out front and smoke was flying,” said neighbor, Rob Greder.
The four Papillion fire stations saw fire coming out the front and back of a house near Suzanne and Arlene Avenues around nine Friday night. “The homeowner said that he had a fire going in the fireplace probably left the house for a while,” said Bowes.
Neighbors 3 News Now spoke with say it didn't take long for the house to become engulfed. “There was a lot of fire coming out of all the windows,” said Jones.
While fighting fires comes with its own challenges the freezing drizzle Friday night caused firefighters to be even more cautious. “The bigger problem really is the ice that's formed, the hoses the amount of water that was going down coated everything in ice, so everybody needs to be very aware of trip, slip, fall hazards,” said Bowes.
It took crews about an hour and a half to get the fire under control, but Bowes said firefighters stayed on scene until Saturday morning in case of flare ups. “We're kind of certain it started on the main floor but then burned through the floor into the basement and then it followed the flue up into the attic, so all parts of the house were affected by it and it had a tremendous head start before we got there,” he said.
Greder says he was shocked to see this happen so close to home but he is grateful that firefighters took extra time to make sure this fire didn't create a bigger mess. “It could have been a goner, took some other house with it but they kept it under control,” he said.
Neighbors on both sides of the house had to evacuate their own homes as a safety precaution. Fortunately, no one got hurt.