Garage fire destroys vehicles, destroys, damages other property
McCOOK, Nebraska -- The sun rises on the smoking remains of a two-story garage this morning, and the damage estimates from the fire that gutted it also rise.
This morning, McCook Fire Chief Marc Harpham is trying to total all the damages from the fire that destroyed Trevor and Megan Taylor's garage at 904 W. Fourth. The Taylors' vehicles and house ... a neighbor's house ... two neighboring garages ... vehicles ... fences ... power poles and power lines.
"I can't begin to give damage estimates yet," Harpham said early this morning.
An investigation of the fire by the McCook fire department and a state fire inspector indicates that it started in a light fixture on the ground floor of the Taylors' garage, about 40 minutes before it was discovered.
Harpham said his firefighters' initial approaches were hampered by burning and downed power lines and a power pole on fire threatening the transformer in the alley. "We were challenged by power lines down," Harpham said. "We couldn't get close."
Harpham said Nebraska Public Power District's "quick response" made it safer for firefighters to get as close as possible to the burning building.
Harpham said the garage was finished inside, with a finished upstairs level. It still had a more open floor plan than a house, he said, without the walls of a house to slow down the spread of a fire. It also had spray cans, ammunition, scuba bottles and propane bottles that exploded in the heat. Exploding tires on the two vehicles could also be blamed for some of the explosions.
The west side of Taylors' house suffered some fire damage, as well as some cosmetic damage due to melted siding. There was some smoke damage inside the Taylors' house, Harpham said, as well as inside the neighbors' house at 906 West Fourth.
The fire at the Taylors' spread to the neighbor's garage on the north, which was nearly totaled, Harpham said; to the fence and shingles on the neighbors' garage to the south; to a small house and two vehicles across the alley; and to the NPPD power pole.
Electrical power was off for 1,219 customers, mostly those to the north and northeast of the 900 block of West Fourth. Mark Becker, media relations specialist with NPPD in Columbus, said this morning an NPPD crew de-energized a distribution line and equipment damaged by the fire. All power was restored by shortly after 2 a.m., Becker said.
The high Thursday was 105 degrees at 4:43 p.m., and by 9:30 p.m. it was still 85 degrees. "We had one firefighter treated at the scene for heat exhaustion. And he's fine," Harpham said. "But the heat didn't slow us down. You do what you have to do. It's a concern, but we stay hydrated." Firefighters could be seen taking shifts, in and out of bunker gear and the heavy breathing apparatus.
Red Willow Western Rural Fire Department arrived to provide additional manpower and equipment. "They're great help, as always," Harpham said.
Harpham said he had 23 firefighters on the scene. Red Willow Western had 12 firefighters. They all left the scene shortly after 2 a.m.