Blaze in Vacant Cedar Rapids Home Contained Quickly

By Jeff Raasch, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -

Cedar Rapids firefighters quickly contained a blaze inside a vacant house in the flood zone Wednesday morning.

Multiple crews were dispatched around 7:25 a.m. to 57 18th Ave. SW when someone reported smoke coming from the two-story house. When the first firefighters arrived, they discovered a wooden staircase connecting the first and second floors on fire. Some wall framing in the center of the first floor was also on fire. The flames were extinguished within a minute or two, officials said.

Fire officials believe it was the 38th fire reported in the areas impacted by record flood of 2008. Several of them have been classified as arson. An investigation was under way to determine the cause of Wednesday's blaze.

"Like one of the guys said, if somebody tried to torch (the house), they did a bad job of it," Battalion Chief John Pulver said.

The house, which appeared abandoned, had no doors or windows. Pulver said the interior walls of the house had been stripped down to the studs, which reduced the potential fire load.

"(The fire) really can't hide from us a whole lot there," Pulver said.

As a precaution, firefighters cut a hole in the roof of the house to release heat and gases caused by the fire. No injuries were reported.

Fire Department spokesman Greg Buelow said no electrical or gas service was connected to the house, leading investigators to believe there was "likely a human element involved."

The house, built in 1890, is owned by Dustin White, according to online assessor records. It is the only remaining house on the block, with others around it already demolished.
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