Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Bill Johnston was the first on the scene early Thursday morning.
He took quick note of what his fire department would be faced with over the next several hours — a large fire quickly consuming both floors of a home south of Craig City Hall.
“That always presents a certain type of danger, that if you send entry crews in, the floor and stairways leading up to the second floor sometimes are compromised,” he said of having both floors of the house at 333 Taylor St. ablaze. “That’s how firefighters are injured or killed is falling through floors or roofs falling in on them.”
With that in mind, Johnston and crew took extra precautions as they entered into the home looking for residents who may have been trapped inside as the blaze raged.
“We had to do a search and rescue because it was unknown if anyone was trapped inside or not,” he said. “We had to split our forces and do search and rescue and fire suppression.”
No residents were in the house at the time of the fire, but two dogs were rescued from the house.
Johnston said the fire was caused by the failure of a wood pellet stove located in the living room near the south wall of the home.
Crews responded to the fire at about 4:50 a.m., and remained on scene for about two-and-a-half hours.
Johnston said about 20 firefighters and four fire engines were called to the scene. The Memorial Hospital also dispatched an ambulance, Johnston said.
About 25 percent of the house was damaged from the fire, the worst of it being located on the south end of the home near the stove.
Damage from the fire occurred both inside and outside of the home.
The fire burned a hole through the south side of the home and spread to the roof of the house and inside of the roof, Johnston said.
“I am sure it is reparable, but it is just not inhabitable at this time,” he said.
Johnston said firefighters asked the homeowner if he had another place to live, and would try to connect him with organizations that could help him find a temporary home, if needed.
The chief said the Craig Police Department also helped the fire department during the call. To keep the scene secure, police blocked off the 300 block of Taylor Street and part of Fourth Street as crews battled the blaze.
But, there was one thing Johnston was most proud of after the fire had been extinguished.
“No injuries,” he said.