Archive for Friday, April 20, 2001

Fire claims home in rural Baldwin

April 20, 2001

Baldwin Three dozen firefighters Thursday couldn't save a rural Baldwin home from fire.

Authorities suspect the blaze about a mile west of Baldwin was caused by an electrical malfunction. It ignited shortly before noon in a corner room of the one-story house before spreading to the attic. Brisk south winds added to firefighters' difficulty, fanning flames across the brick house's shake-shingled roof, said Fred McClenahan, Palmyra Township assistant fire chief.

The exact cause hasn't been identified, but McClenahan said investigators were focusing on an electrical cause because of where the fire started, and there was no evidence it had been intentionally set.

No injuries were reported. As firefighters battled the fire, residents Mark and Toni Hebenstriet arrived and held their dachshund, which a Baldwin firefighter rescued after first arriving on the scene. The couple declined comment.

A damage estimate wasn't available Thursday, but the fire gutted the roof and caused major internal damage, McClenahan said. About three dozen firefighters from five departments Palmyra and Willow Springs townships, Baldwin, Wellsville and southern Johnson County attacked the flames from all directions.

A pumper truck drew water from a nearby pond so firefighters could dousethe blaze. The fire appeared to have started at the rear of the house, 1561 N. 300 Road, located about 1.5 miles west of Baldwin on U.S. Highway 56.

Sustained winds of 15-25 mph were reported Tuesday afternoon in Douglas County, with a top gust of 32 mph at 2 p.m. Douglas County Sheriff's deputies were posted along U.S. Highway 56, signaling motorists to slow down because of smoke rolling across the roadway and oncoming emergency vehicles.

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