Firefighters responded to a house fire at 312 36th Street NE late this morning. Michael Downing, age 44, was a guest in the house and, while working on a computer in the living room, he detected a smoke odor. Upon investigating the smoke odor, Downing opened a stairwell door that led to the second floor attic area of the home and saw smoke visible. Downing grabbed two cats that were in the house and escaped the structure without injury. He called 911 at 11:15 a.m.
Firefighters arrived on scene and were met by Downing who indicated that there was a fire on the second floor of the one and one-half story residential structure. The first fire engine company on scene made entry through a side door and proceeded through a stairwell to the second floor attic area where they encountered heavy smoke and intense heat. As other fire crews arrived on scene, a ventilation hole was cut in the roof to aid in the release of heat and to increase visibility. Firefighters found the heaviest concentration of fire within a closet in an unfinished area of the second floor attic space. Fire had extended into the ceiling and firefighters reported that the flooring was on fire. Firefighters were able to prevent fire from breaching the roof and floor; however there was significant fire, heat, and smoke damage to the second floor attic area, and smoke and water damage to the main floor of the dwelling.
The house is owned by Wendy Riegel, who was not home at the time of the fire.
The Grant Wood Chapter of the American Red Cross was called to the scene to assist the homeowner; however Riegel was expected to stay with family members. The home is not habitable due to the fire and smoke damage.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
No further information is available at this time.