Dickinson home lost in fire
The Dickinson Fire Department found itself battling a house fire that just wouldn't quit Thursday, one of the hottest days of the summer.
Firefighters responded to 537 Second Ave. E. just before 10 a.m. and stayed on scene until 2 p.m. and returned an hour later to extinguish flare-ups in the roof.
Dickinson Fire Chief Bob Sivak said the fire started in the back bedroom on the main floor and that the cause was undetermined because of the extent of the damage.
"The house is extensively damaged," Sivak said. "It cannot be lived in."
Aaron Hetzel said he and his sister, Christine, knew that as soon as they returned to the house to see firefighters battling a blaze and smoke pouring out of the roof. The siblings had been renting the property along with a friend, Kris Bextel.
Bextel was at work and the Hetzels had left the house to go to a bank when they received a call that their home was on fire.
"I'm just more shocked than anything," said Hetzel, who added he was in the process of moving out of the home. "It'll hit me later."
Bextel said she had lived in the house for about two years. At the time of the fire, she was uncertain about whether her cat, one of three that were in the house during the fire, made it out unharmed.
Sivak said Thursday afternoon that firefighters found all three cats alive and well in the basement after the fire was extinguished.
"They're pretty wet, but they were there," he said.
Sivak and the tenants said J.J. Hancock, the owner of the property, lives in Minnesota and did not have insurance on the house or its contents.
Some of the contents of the home belonged to the Hancock, Bextel said, including a late model Chevrolet Monte Carlo and motorcycle that were in the garage.
"She left some of her stuff here -- a lot of her stuff here -- because she couldn't take it with her," Bextel said.
A representative from the Red Cross visited with Bextel and the Hetzels as firefighters battled the blaze. Bextel said the organization is providing them with vouchers to buy clothing and perhaps even obtain lodging.
Because temperatures were in the 90s, Sivak said many of the 28 firefighters who responded to the call were treated for heat exhaustion on scene before returning to battle the blaze.
"The weather was brutal," Sivak said.