BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A space heater on the first floor of a home in the 1500 block of Avenue E is being blamed for a fire that heavily damaged the home Thursday afternoon.
Fort Madison firefighters were called to the scene at about 1:40 p.m. to 1528 Avenue E. The owners of the home, according to Lee County records listed on Beacon Schneider, are Chuck and Dawn Kempker.
Fire Chief Joey Herren arrived on the scene first and had to kick in the front and back doors to check to see if anyone was in the home, but he said that no one was inside.
Flames weren’t visible from the exterior of the home until fire broke out on the back side, but heavy smoke poured from the eaves and windows for about 30 minutes before the fire broke through.
Herren called in the ladder truck to go to work on the roof, where firefighters cut into the top of the roof to get at the fire and ventilate the blaze, while firefighters on the ground blasted the back of the home with foam and water.
Damage estimates weren’t available Thursday evening, but firefighters were on the scene for more than five hours.