Kerosene Heater Blamed For Fire In 1880s House


NEBRASKA CITY –  A portable kerosene heater is blamed for a fire in a 130-year-old house  that has most recently been used as an apartment duplex.

The unoccupied apartments had smoke from the first floor up to the attic and Fire Chief Alan Viox said there was smoke pouring from four sides when he arrived at 1320 Third Corso.

Viox: “We didn’t go in. We actually attacked the fire from the outside due to the windows being blocked and nailed shut with plywood, so we didn’t make it a quick interior attack. We fought the fire from the exterior until we could get in and understand what was going on and be able to see a little better.”

He said the fire started in the ceiling of the first floor, spread to the second floor and had worked its way to the attic.

County records say the building was purchased in November by John Staab and Viox said it was being prepared for remodeling.

Viox: “Kerosene heater in the area that, I think he might have spilled a little bit of kerosene filling it this morning. That’s where the fire originated from.”

A construction technique called balloon framing was introduced in the United States around the time the house was built. Balloon framing reduced the cost of home construction, but Viox said it means that fire can rapidly spread from one floor to the next.

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