The fire that severely damaged a Belleville home and displaced four residents Tuesday evening was intense enough to force firefighters to abandon an initial attempt to douse the flames from the inside.
Belleville Fire Chief Tom Pour said firefighters arrived shortly after 7 p.m. to find heavy smoke and fire pouring from the front portion of the second floor of the home in the 200 block of North Eighth Street. He said that while firefighters made an interior attack in the northwest corner of the second floor, that room flashed over and firefighters were ordered to evacuate.
“When we were working on hitting the fire up there, the fire had already got into the ceiling above the attic space,” Pour said. “There was fire in the northwest corner; that room flashed over and the guys had to bail out of the building for their safety.”
“We had to to take a defensive position at that point,” Pour said. Firefighters could not use aerial hoses to assist in the firefight because power lines and trees crowded the narrow street.
With no wind Tuesday evening, thick, gray smoke blanketed the neighborhood. Several dozen residents who watched from intersections to the north and south of the scene at times were unable to see the home that was burning just a few doors down.
The initial 911 call indicated two people may have been trapped in the second floor of the building but firefighters did not find anyone during a search of the interior before they were ordered to evacuate.
Shortly after 9 p.m., crews were finally able to enter the home and extinguish the fire after a two-hour firefight. Pour said the cause of the fire won’t be known until investigators complete their examination of the home.
Neither the home’s four residents nor any firefighters were reported injured. The Red Cross was dispatched to assist the displaced residents.