Nebraska City House Fire “Smothered” Itself Out

NEBRASKA CITY – Nebraska City firefighters are reporting a rare house fire Sunday that smothered itself.

Steve and Brenda Walters left the house at 817 S. Third St. early Sunday morning. When Brenda returned around 10 a.m., she could smell smoke from inside. She opened the screen door and felt heat from the interior door.

With the fire department on its way, a neighbor opened the door and Walters saw the interior of her house was black.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office has been called to investigate, but Nebraska City firefighters suspect the fire started in the basement of the 82-year-old house. Fire scorched the contents of the basement and burned floor joists supporting the upper level.

It left charred wood around every doorway and window, but the house was so airtight, that the fire eventually smothered itself. It was hot enough to melt the bulbs of light bulbs and pull the glass toward the source of the heat, without breaking the glass. There was evidence that fire detectors had gone off, before they too were melted.

The fire produced intense heat, but was not able to break through to the oxygen-rich upstairs level, nor did it find oxygen by the door of the basement exit. Firefighters did not use a drop of water, because the fire was out when they arrived.

Still, smoke filled the upstairs, leaving soot a deep as the floor rug. Firefighters say there was so much heat, the house may not be salvageable.