Fires burn 2 neighboring houses in east Springfield

Published: May. 19, 2016 at 2:19 PM CDT
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Springfield firefighters fought fires in two houses next to each other. on Thursday afternoon. The fire started at a home at 1531 E. Berkeley St. and jumped to the home to the west. Firefighters say they could see the smoke from the fire station about 2 1/2 miles away.

The homes are near Seminole Street at Fremont Avenue, just west of the Springfield National Cemetery. The fire started in the carport of the first house about 2 p.m. and spread to the neighboring carport of the second house by the time firefighters arrived. One carport had a pickup inside of it.

Two women who were in the second house got out safely. Neighbors said the man who lives in the first house was away fishing, but they were able to reach that man's son to tell him about the fire.

A witness in the neighborhood, Sharon Hayden said, "I saw flames over behind the truck, sort of behind the red truck, and then it was just a matter of minutes; it had engulfed into the other house over there. I went over to ask the ladies if they were okay or if there was anybody in the house. And she said no, that she got her and her pets out."

The mail man, who was taking his lunch break at the time, saw the fire quickly grow and spread.

"I heard her ask if she'd called 911 and I thought somebody might have been injured or something, so I got out and just kind of looked and saw a fire behind the truck and it just kind of accelerated pretty quick," said Devon Suttles.

Suttles also shared a video he captured of the flames.

Fire investigators aren't sure what started the fire, but they say multiple containers of fuel likely helped it spread fast. Firefighters say it's unusual for them to see a fire actually spread from one house to another.

"In Springfield, it happens very rarely. We may get some melted siding. We may get some minor damage like that, but for it to spread from one house to another is very rare. So this was kind of a surprise to us, but yet with the huge amount of fuel we found, that could definitely contribute to that," said Fire Marshal Mark Epps.

The east house had fire damage to the carport and attic and smoke damage to the interior. The west house suffered the same damage and additionally serious damage to a bedroom. The fires were under control by 2:30.