Flames spread through rural Burbank residence

Flames spread through rural Burbank residence Firemen from Beresford, Elk Point and Vermillion track down flames that spread throughout the interior and exterior walls of the Jerry Zweifel residence Monday afternoon. Siding had to be pulled off of exterior walls in some places to give firefighters access to hot spots. by David Lias Firefighters from Beresford, Elk Point and Vermillion responded early Monday afternoon to a fire discovered in the rural home of Jerry Zweifel.

The house, located at 31403 471st Street, Burbank, was still standing when firemen completed their work and left the scene.

But no amount of water could undo the damage already done by flames that may have smoldered for hours in the house before being discovered shortly after 1 p.m. Monday.

The Beresford Fire Department was initially dispatched to respond to the fire. Fire Chief Tarz Mullinix immediately asked for assistance from the Elk Point and Vermillion fire departments when it was reported that the house was nearly engulfed in flames.

The three fire crews arrived at the burning residence at approximately the same time.

"Basically, the fire started in the basement, and burned itself to the first level," Mullinix said. "It probably had been burning four or five hours before it was noticed. It burned approximately an eight-foot square hole through the dining room floor, and then it spread into the first story and into the outside wall."

It was not an easy fire to fight, he said.

"We had to ventilate the house and attack it, and gain control of it," Mullinix said. "We did that successfully; we saved the structure but the heat and smoke damage was throughout the entire structure."

He estimates the house received at least $50,000 of damage from the flames. "I don't know about the personal stuff, if that can be salvaged or not," Mullinix said. "It depends on how hot it was in some of those areas. Everything was smoke-damaged for sure."

The house had been empty all morning. "Evidently the husband came home early in the afternoon and discovered it."

The fire was reported to the Union County dispatcher at 1:14 p.m. Monday.

"We know the fire started in or around the furnace area," Mullinix said. "If it was the furnace or the wiring � there was so much fire damage there we really couldn't determine the exact cause � but it definitely started around the furnace."

Mullinix said that right after his department was dispatched, he realized the house was located in an area also commonly covered by the Vermillion and Elk Point fire departments. He called for their assistance, especially for the pumper trucks of the two departments, because an adequate water supply to battle rural fires can be a challenge.

"It was just automatic when they said it was a structure fire," Mullinix said. "We just had our dispatcher go ahead and contact Elk Point and Vermillion to ask them for assistance, with the idea that they might even get there before we did.

"As it turned out, we all got there at about the same time," he said. "Once we ventilated the house, we got things under control. With the fire burning so long, we had to do what we call 'overhaul' and look for hidden fires in the walls and ceilings and floor joists."

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