December 13, 2012 11:38:41 AM
A house located at 511 South Jackson Street in Starkville was declared a loss Wednesday after an attic fire destroyed the roof of the structure, causing it to collapse.
Starkville Fire Department Chief Rodger Mann said the four-hour battle to extinguish the flames was challenging because the fire had a chance to develop before a call was made. There were no injuries.
"By the time Engine 4 arrived on scene, the flames were coming out around the roof line," Mann said. "The fire had gotten a good head start on us before it was ever discovered. It had built up fairly heavy."
Firefighters were dispatched at 9:30 a.m. and arrived on the scene at 9:32 a.m. Mann said the cause of the fire is unknown at this point, but it was likely either an electrical issue or a venting issue around a heater.
Firefighters began fighting the fire from the inside, but when embers began falling, the battalion chief on duty made the call to evacuate and battle the flames from the outside, which Mann said is less than ideal.
"That was the right move, very appropriate at the time," Mann said. "It made us fight it from the outside, which is something we obviously don't want to do, but he made the right call."
The Starkville Police Department arrived first on the scene, shortly before the homeowner, whom Mann said was frantic to retrieve her pets -- a dog and a cat -- from the burning house.
The officer helped the woman find her dog but could not locate her cat.
Mann said it was not until the blaze was well-established that the unscathed cat was retrieved by a firefighter.
"We weren't able to locate the cat until after we had been there for a while," Mann said. "I think she may have given up on the cat making it out."
The Oktibbeha-Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services has reached out to the homeowner.
The fire department is entering its busiest part of the year, Mann said, with the majority of calls related to the cold weather and heating appliances.
"We can't stress the need to make sure (people) have working smoke alarms," Mann said. "Be very vigilant about checking the smoke alarms, too, and check heating appliances and how close you are putting them to combustibles."
"The good thing about this (fire) is no one was hurt," he said.