Firefighters extinguish duplex blaze

Top floors were vacant and lower-level residents were not inside during the fire.

Vadim Lavrusik

Firefighters stopped a fire in a Marcy-Holmes duplex Tuesday.

The top floor of the three-story house, located at 514 8th Ave. S.E., caught fire while two workers were inside doing demolition work, said landlord Bryce Ferrell, who heard about the fire when a resident called him.

Ferrell said in the course of tearing down old sheet rock, it seems the workers hit a water line.

After shutting the water off, they attempted to patch the leak by soldering a cap on the pipe, possibly lighting a piece of wood, plaster or insulation, he said.

“It’s an old building, so it sounded like it spread pretty quickly,” he said.

Fire Stations 11 and 4 responded to the call at 3:35 p.m. and had controlled the entire blaze in about 20 minutes.

Paramedics said there were no reported injuries.

The top floors were vacant and lower-level residents were not inside during the fire, though the flames destroyed the room in which they originated, 4th District Battalion Chief David Walburg said.

He said the fire started in an upper-level room and then traveled down through the wall to the first floor. The exact cause is not known, he said, but firefighters don’t suspect any foul play.

It isn’t known whether residents will have to relocate while repairs are made, but Ferrell said he has other properties where they could stay if needed.

Although the building’s exterior appeared mostly undamaged, inside collapsing ceilings dripped with water, said Jake Jacobson, a first-floor tenant.

The building suffered extensive water damage after crews sprayed water into the top level for several minutes.

“We put so much water up there,” Walburg said. “This was a good stop.”

Jacobson said he came after the fire had already been extinguished, and was worried about his kitten that might have been inside.

“Everything we own is in there,” he said.

After going inside to look at the damages, he said his side of the unit had minimal damage, but that his University student neighbor’s half had water everywhere.

“Sarah’s apartment is toast,” he said.

Jacobson said he didn’t know where the other two tenants were, but expects they were still at work and probably didn’t know about the fire.

Walburg said firefighters didn’t find anyone in the house upon entering, though several eyewitnesses said they saw a woman being helped away from the scene.

Zoe Prinds-Flash, a sophomore at South High School who lives across the street, said she saw smoke billowing from the windows and roof.