(Jon Rust) [Order this photo]
The call of a fire at 14 N. Fountain St. in Cape Girardeau came in just before midnight Friday, and crews were still going through the home extinguishing hot spots at 2 a.m. Cape Girardeau fire chief Rick Ennis said at that time that firefighters might be on the scene until sunrise. The last truck left at 8:17 a.m.
The way the old wooden house -- turned into apartments -- was built allowed flames to spread quickly up the walls from the bottom floor, where the fire was believed to have started, into the second floor and eventually the attic, Ennis said. Firefighters battled flames pouring from openings on every side of the house and shooting through the roof. Crews also attempted an aggressive interior attack, according to a release from the fire department, but were unsuccessful.
Jerry Halter lived in an apartment on the bottom floor, and said he was the only occupant of the house. He said a gas furnace exploded, knocking him down and starting the fire. He was able to escape without injury, but he said he lost everything in what had been his home for six years.
One firefighter from the Cape Girardeau Fire Department sustained a minor injury to his shoulder. The fire department reported the fire was believed to have started in the kitchen.
Ennis called the fight "challenging." The first firefighters inside found access blocked to the second floor by burned out stairs, so crews attempted to extinguish flames on the top floor from outside, and the fire got into the attic.
Mutual aid from Scott City and Jackson brought additional manpower to the firefighting effort, and crews from the East County Fire Protection District, Jackson and off-duty Cape Girardeau personnel staffed fire stations while Cape Girardeau firefighters were on scene.
Staff writer Erin Ragan contributed to this report.
14 N. Fountain St., Cape Girardeau, MO