Gutted Home One of 15 Des Moines House Fires - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Gutted Home One of 15 Des Moines House Fires

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Addie Olson


Since Monday, firefighters have responded to 15 house fires in Des Moines. One of those calls came Thursday morning on Hickman Road near 26th Street.

Passerby Brian Kemp saw smoke rising from the home as he drove past it around 10:30 this morning.

He stopped his car, called 911 and ran up the driveway.

"I got up there and I was beating on the windows, and I was going to kick the door in but the house was already filled with smoke," Kemp said. 

Kemp heard no response. The family who lives there had already left for work.

An ash pot from the fireplace started the blaze. Someone had placed it on a deck outside of the home.

"It looked like it had just started," Kemp said. "But once it got going, the flames were rolling 40 feet in the air."

Des Moines Fire showed up just minutes after Kemp's call.

"The truck pulled up and they were running hose out," Kemp said. "They were fast. They were really fast."

The department has had plenty of practice this week alone.

"We've had space heaters, we've had extension cords, we've had electrical wiring, we've had candles," said Brian O'Keefe of the Des Moines Fire Department.

Heat sources have caused several of the 15 house fires they've put out since Monday.

The extreme cold has people doing everything they can to stay warm.

"If you're doing something different or you've added something new, just really pay attention to that," O'Keefe said.

Fire officials say pull the plug on heaters and put out flames completely before you leave.

"It's a total loss of the home," said O'Keefe of Thursday's fire. "It's just a matter of whether they can recover any personal items."

The family who lived in that home said one of their cats didn't make it out of the house. The fire completely gutted the home, causing about $200,000 in damage.

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