The owner of an abandoned house at 341 NE 140 Road in rural Hoisington decided the best way to demolish the structure would be to set fire to it. Unfortunately, he neglected to notify local firefighters, who were dispatched to the scene shortly after 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Smoke and flames were visible for quite a distance and led to several 911 calls, said Barton County Fire Dist. 2 Chief Jerry Stricker in Hoisington. Firefighters didn’t know what to expect when they arrived at the one-story house near the intersection of NE 140 RD and NE 30 Ave.
When firefighters arrived, the house was fully engulfed, with flames coming from the windows and the attic area. The roof had collapsed. No one was around the property.
Firefighters immediately fought the fire defensively, that is, from the outside, due to the amount of fire inside and the instability of the structure.
During extinguishment, it was found that there was no electricity or propane leading into the house, which indicated it was vacant. The property owner was contacted and he said he was looking at tearing the house down so he lit the house on fire Tuesday, then left the structure to burn down unattended.
The property owner did have a burn permit but the permits are issued to individuals and can be used at multiple addresses, so firefighters had no way of knowing the fire was intentional, Stricker said. In situations of that nature, “we expect the worst.”
Stricker said no crime was committed because the property owner wasn’t trying to make an insurance claim. He was given a written warning because even with a burn permit he should have called the fire department first to confirm that conditions were favorable.
“Call it in,” he said to property owners planning to use their burn permits. “It sure saves a lot of headaches.” In this case, firefighters were on the scene for approximately two to two and a half hours, pumping a lot of water into a house that didn’t need to be saved.
“The property owner was very cooperative,” Stricker said. “I think he’s learned his lesson.”
BCFD2 was assisted by Hoisington EMS, Barton Co. Sheriff’s Office and the Beaver Fire Department.