The Ottumwa Courier

November 19, 2012

Ottumwa resident escapes from burning house

Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — The resident of an Ottumwa home is safe after his house caught on fire Sunday.

“He did the right thing,” said Ottumwa Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Trout. “He saw the flames, called 911 and got out of the house.”

The occupant, Patrick Cullinan, was at his home, 505 Wabash Ave., at the time of the fire, possibly eating lunch in the living room.

“He smelled smoke, went back to the utility room where the washer and dryer are and saw the dryer was on fire — the whole room, really,” Trout said.

The Ottumwa Fire Department arrived around 1 p.m. Sunday. The home is not a total loss, but there’s a great deal of damage, Trout said, describing the kitchen, utility room and bathroom as having burned.

There was also smoke and water damage throughout the rest of the house. Damage has been estimated at $70,000. No firefighters were injured.  

The OFD notified the Red Cross, requesting that they offer temporary assistance to the owners.

An investigator was called to the scene and is working on a report.

However, said Trout, they were able to confirm the fire started with the dryer. In the past, he said, they’ve seen a few fires start that way, often from a buildup of lint, which gets hot, smolders, then catches fire. However, the cause of this fire has not yet been determined.

“If it’s a small [indoor] fire, and you think you can handle it [with your extinguisher], you could try it. But in this case, this room, he knew it was more than he could handle. The whole room was on fire. Get out of the house. He did the right thing,” Trout said.