Fire damages two-unit duplex on Eighth Street, no injuries reported

Columbus firefighters work at the scene of a duplex fire on Eighth Street Wednesday night. Photo provided by the Columbus Fire Department.

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Columbus firefighters were sent to a two-unit duplex at 1017 Eighth St. at 6:57 p.m. Wednesday after smoke was reported coming from the rear of the structure.

Upon arrival, Columbus police told firefighters that everyone was out of the 1017 Eighth St. address. The neighboring apartment, 1019 8th St., had also been evacuated by the time firefighters arrived at the scene. As additional firefighters began to arrive on the scene, a fire attack team went to the rear of the home and prepared to make a forced-entry through a locked rear door, said Capt. Mike Wilson, Columbus Fire Department spokesman.

By this time, flames were now visible through the roof at the rear of the home. When firefighters gained entry into the home, a smoke explosion occurred causing a percussion wave to strike the fire attack team as they entered, Wilson said. Firefighters were not injured.

Firefighters found heavy fire conditions in the home’s bathroom area, Wilson said. Firefighters applied water to the flames as additional crews were sent to ventilate the home and provide a search of both apartments. When firefighters entered 1019 Eighth St., they found smoke throughout the apartment, Wilson said.

As a search of that apartment was conducted, three cats were located within the smoke filled residence. Firefighter collected the cats and removed the pets from the apartment where the lethargic cats were provided oxygen therapy by an emergency medical ambulance standing-by at the scene, Wilson said. Using pet oxygen masks equipped on all Columbus Fire Department emergency vehicles, all three cats showed great improvement and were eventually reunited with their owners. Firefighters brought the blaze under control within 20 minutes and spent the next hour and a half working to find and extinguish hot spots within the heavily damaged building.

Columbus Fire Department Investigators spoke with tenants from both apartments. According to investigators, the fire at 1017 Eighth St. was discovered by the occupant of that unit who then alerted three adults in the neighboring apartment. Investigators said that the fire in unit 1017 was so intense that the high heat melted the shower fixtures within the bathroom area and flames burned through the ceiling and entered the attic space. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Due to the damage sustained in each apartment, the Columbus Fire Department contacted the American Red Cross who is providing emergency shelter assistance to the families involved. No injuries were reported at the scene. Damage is estimated at over $60,000.

Agencies that assisted at the scene include the Columbus Police Department, Columbus Township Fire Department, Columbus Regional Health Emergency Medical Services, Duke Energy, Bartholomew County 911 Emergency Operations Center, American Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Flames erupt from the roof at a residential fire at 1017 8th St. in Columbus, IN. Wednesday evening. Photo provided by Columbus Fire Department.
Columbus Regional Health Emergency Medical Services Paramedic John Shoaf checks on three cats after providing oxygen therapy to the pets following a duplex apartment fire in the 1000 block of 8th Columbus, IN. Wednesday evening. Photo provided by Columbus Fire Department.