BEATRICE – Beatrice Rural Firefighters were sent to a house fire apparently touched off by a gas grill malfunction yesterday, six miles northeast of Beatrice.
Beatrice Rural Fire Chief Matt Langley says a breezeway caught fire, connected to the garage and a house that’s been under renovation.
"In the garage, it pretty much burned out the entire attic area and the ceiling, the breezeway between the house and the garage also was a total loss. Luckily, there was a wall on the exterior of the house that the breezeway was attached to, and it kept a lot of the fire strictly to the roof and the attic area of the house. Just a lot of smoke and water damage to the house. There was a little bit of fire damage."
Beatrice Rural Firefighters were sent to the home along South 94th Road between Sargent and Juniper Roads, at 3:22 p.m. The two-story home was under renovation.
"Kind of a heartbreak story....they were almost done with renovation. I had heard that actually, the kitchen countertops had shown up that day and got installed. So, they were about done with the renovation and getting ready to move in...so it was kind of a bad deal, there."
Mutual aid was requested for firefighters from Filley and for a tanker truck from Pickrell. Firefighters fought the flames while the heat index was as high as 112-degrees.
"That was a concern, right from the get-go..so that was something we closely monitored. I had a couple of firefighters, that's all they did, is keep track of how everybody was doing, how much time they spent at the fire scene...making sure they got plenty of rest. We had some shade area, plenty of water, some Gatorade, things like that, so we paid strict attention to how often people were out doing their work, so make sure we didn't have any health issues, out there."
Langley says about 20 firefighters were on scene between the three departments. Smoke from the fire could be seen from U.S. Highway 136. The fire was largely out, at around 4 p.m., though firefighters remained to check for hotspots.
"A lot of the insulation in the ceiling was on fire, so we had to pull a lot of that out of the garage and the breezeway, so that took a little bit of time."
All fire units wrapped up work at the scene, at around 6:20 p.m. A Nebraska Fire Marshal deputy was summoned to examine the cause of the fire confirming the cause was the malfunction in the grill.