ELDRIDGE — The volunteers at the Eldridge Fire Department have had an unusually busy winter season, and they didn’t get a break this weekend tackling a house fire in below-freezing weather.
Eldridge Fire Chief Tyler Schmidt blamed Saturday night’s fire at 318 W. Davies St. on a woodburning stove, he said Monday.
A neighbor reported the fire at 11:32 p.m. and the two residents asleep inside were awakened by “crackling” and “popping” sounds, Schmidt said.
They made it outside uninjured, and firefighters arrived to find the home engulfed as flames shot up as high as 30 feet in the air, Schmidt said.
The fire caused $75,000 in damage to the single-story home that is owned by John T. Green Sr. and another $25,000 to the contents. Schmidt said the stove was located in the back of the house. Although he was told the chimney had been recently cleaned, he said firefighters found a buildup of creosote that may have contributed to the cause.
Schmidt reported a couple of slips and falls on the icy ground, but none of the firefighters were injured.
“Fighting fires in below-freezing weather is always a challenge,” he said. “Everything gets ice. The equipment freezes up.”
Saturday’s fire was the third in 16 days. Schmidt said Eldridge firefighters typically tackle two in a year.
Investigators Monday were still trying to determine what caused the Jan. 17 fire that destroyed Del's Eatery & Pub, 102 W. LeClaire Road, Eldridge. The corner building was constructed in 1885.
They’ve determined that an equipment malfunction caused a fire that broke out Jan. 25 inside a furnace at American Finishing Resources, 330 N. 16th Ave. That fire caused $250,000 in damage to the local paint removal business.
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No one was injured in any of the fires.
“It’s all a coincidence, I guess,” Schmidt said of the three fires occurring over about two weeks.
Volunteer firefighters are equipped with pagers and receive alerts through the Scott Emergency Communication Center.
Schmidt also works on the Davenport Fire Department.
“It’s normally pretty quiet out here, fire-wise, and we like it that way,” he said.