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Neighboring houses torched

FIGHTING TWO FIRES – Humboldt and Gibson County firefighters battle blazes at two houses last Thursday. The garage of the house on the right caught fire, then flames jumped to the house on the left. Both structures were a total loss.

by Danny Wade

What started as a routine fire, escalated into a full-blown disaster. Humboldt firefighters were called to a garage fire where the fire spread throughout the house and flames caught a neighboring house on fire as well. Luckily, no one was harmed during the blaze.

Thursday afternoon, Humboldt Fire Department received a call at 2:42 p.m. of a garage fire at 1641 Osborne St. When firefighters arrived at 2:46, the garage was fully engulfed with two vehicles burning as well. As the fire spread, flames from the garage jump high into the air and caught the house next-door at 1635 Osborne on fire in the attic.

HFD made the call for mutual aid from neighboring fire department at 2:51, 3:01 and again at 3:08 p.m. as the fire continued to grow out of control. Gibson County Fire Department, Gibson, Medina, Milan, Gann, Fruitland, Moore’s Chapel and Brazil fire department all responded to assist.

Humboldt police were on the scene for assistance, as was the Humboldt Area Rescue Squad and Gibson County EMS. Humboldt Utilities was called in to cut power to the area for safety purposes—water and electricity do not go together.

With two structures burning and the flames quickly growing, it was all hands on deck.

FLAMES SHOOT THROUGH ROOF – Flames from this house fire were shooting upwards of 30 ft. into the air. At left, retired Humboldt firefighters, Chief Chester Owens and Capt. Robert Carruthers pitched in to battle the blaze. Other firefighters and emergency personnel assisted fighting the fire.

Word of the fire quickly spread around town. Two retired firefighters, Chief Chester Owens and Capt. Robert Carruthers quickly made their way to the scene. Their instincts kicked in. Carruthers grabbed a hose and Owens backed him up as they sprayed water on the flames until more manpower from the other department arrived.

Humboldt Fire Chief Greg Lencioni said Humboldt Police Department assisted with scene control, and they helped with stretching hoses and even helped to put “water on the fire.” There was a SWAT class at HPD that day, which added more manpower. Police helped search one of the houses to make sure no one was inside. Gibson County Fire Department brought manpower and pumper trucks. Chief Lencioni said he saw men from four of the county stations help battle the blaze. Gibson County Fire Chief Bryan Cathey was on the scene to help.

As the fire kept growing, HFD radioed a call to Milan FD at 3:17 p.m. and requested their ladder truck. With the second house on fire and becoming fully engulfed, firefighters feared the flames from it could jump to a third house next to it, 1631 Osborne. These houses are very close to each other, roughly 10 to 15 ft. apart. Firefighters sprayed a water curtain between the second and third house to keep it from catching on fire. Chief Lencioni said the curtain likely kept the fire from spreading to the third house, which was not damaged.

“This was a bad fire, but with all our brother firefighters, we got it done with no injuries,” said Chief Lencioni. “Luckily, no one was hurt. We had a couple of firefighters to overheat a bit, but nothing major.”

It was reported that a house cat did not make it out of one of the houses.

Lencioni said Humboldt Fire was on the scene for almost four hours until 6:22 p.m., but returned around midnight when one the homeowners arrived. While there, they found smoke coming from a heating and air grate where debris had fallen into the vent. It was extinguished.

The chief said the fire is under investigation and he does not suspect foul play. Lencioni said cause of the fire was likely electrical.

MILAN LADDER TRUCK – HFD requested assistance from neighboring fire departments to battle the two-house fire last Thursday. They requested Milan’s ladder truck in order to better reach the fire and keep the fire from jumping to a third house.

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