Courier Staff Writer
OTTUMWA — A fire that engulfed an Ottumwa home this weekend sent one firefighter and the homeowner to the hospital.
Firefighters responded to a house fire at 1061 S. Sheridan Ave. at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and found the flames shooting from the house to be more than they could handle. Additional firefighters were called in, totaling 11 firefighters battling the flames.
"Of course with conditions in the 90s and the humidity was way up there, we had to call in extra guys," said Fire Chief Tony Miller. "It was completely engulfed when they got there."
Firefighter Nathan Wilson was inside the home when part of the ceiling and a ladder came crashing down on top of him. Miller said Wilson has since left the hospital and was back on duty on Monday.
The homeowner also went to the hospital after suffering from smoke inhalation.
While a propane tank exploding did not cause the fire, Miller said "it did definitely progress the fire worse than what it was."
Deputy Chief Cory Benge was at the scene of the fire Monday afternoon to try to determine the cause of the fire and the extent of its damage.
Firefighters remained on the scene for nearly four hours Saturday.
High temperatures do not make a fire worse, Miller said, but they do make it worse on the firefighters.
"They were dehydrated so bad," he said. "You get it handed to you when it's that hot and humid. One thing, though, is citizens brought lots of beverages for our firefighters to drink. We appreciate all the help we received on that. They couldn't help put the fire out, but they did help the firemen put the fire out by bringing beverages to keep them hydrated."
This fire was the city's 27th structure fire this year, Miller said, in contrast to a total of 34 structure fires in all of 2012.
Thursday marks Wilson's last day as a probationary firefighter, as he was hired on June 27, 2012.
"What a way to have your last fire before you're a department member," Miller said of Wilson's injuries.
In the following video uploaded to Facebook by Bryan Henry, the home is shown right before firefighters arrived on the scene: