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Cause of Hastings house fire still under investigation

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 8:39 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - A multi-family house on 1126 W. 6th Street suffered extensive damage due to a fire on Tuesday.

“Every little piece of where we saw smoke we had to tear it open,” said Hastings Firefighter Tom Treffer.

There is 70% fire and water damage and 100% smoke damage.

“Unfortunately that’s caused a lot of damage to the building but to make sure it’s completely out, that’s what we have to do,” Treffer said.

Firefighters responded to the fire yesterday afternoon and when they arrived on scene, smoke and flames could be seen from inside and outside of the building.

“We thought initially there was some rescues that needed to be made but found out real quick from neighbors on scene that everybody was out of the building,” said Hastings Fire Department Chief Brad Starling.

Next they needed to put the fire out. They did all they could to prevent causing further damage but it was hard trying to suppress the fire with how it was built.

“The original structure was built in 1916, so very old style of construction that allows fire to move freely,” Starling said.

But with all the renovations added to it overtime and there being three units instead of the allowed two according to city codes, there were too many hidden spaces for fire to stayed trapped.

“There are void spaces through that addition and those void spaces held fire and kept it hidden from us until we were able to get into each one of those spaces,” Starling said.

Firefighters had to keep knocking down walls and ceilings to get access.

“Its just one of those things, you keep working, keep fighting it, keep overhauling, keep pulling stuff down to get every piece of the fire out,” Treffer said.

Treffer also said it took a team to get it all done. There were 21 on and off duty firefighters from Hastings Fire and Rescue and Hastings Rural.

And even with all that man power, it took about 40 minutes and several more hours to finish the job.

“It took double the work and double the time,” Treffer said.

Firefighters confirmed there were no working smoke detectors in the house at the time of the fire and if it wasn’t for Hastings Police Officer Ethan Charman who saw the smoke while on patrol, the people inside wouldn’t have known what was going on. In fact, Him and another police officer went door to door to each apartment to warn them.

“Firefighting is not in their job description but public safety is and I think they did an excellent job and they should be commended for what they did,” said Hastings Police Department Capt. Mike Doremus.

No one suffered any injuries and they were able to get some dogs out as well. Doremus said if it wasn’t for their bravery, there could have been a completely different outcome.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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