Firefighter, resident injured in house fire

Two people, including a Fort Dodge firefighter, were injured early Monday morning after a fire destroyed a home in the north part of town.

Neither victim was seriously injured, according to Fire Chief Kent Hulett.

The department first received the call about the fire at 1415 N. 11th St. at 1:31 a.m.

The Webster County Assessor’s office identified the homeowners as James and Jodi Lennon.

Hulett said the family of five, which includes two adults and three children, had already gotten out by the time the fire department arrived. The mother and one of her children were awake and smelled something that caught their attention. When the smoke detectors went off, the family evacuated the home.

“It appeared the fire originated in the basement,” Hulett said. “The fire was showing out of some of the basement windows and we did an interior fire attack into the basement.”

About 15 to 20 minutes after firefighters began putting out the flames, Hulett said a firefighter called a mayday on the radio, which meant he needed help.

“He apparently got separated from his partner,” Hulett said. “He got off the hose line and needed help getting out of the basement.”

Immediately after the call for help came out, the firefighters located their comrade and were able to get him out of the house. Hulett said the firefighter was taken to Trinity Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for minor injuries and released.

A resident of the home was also taken to Trinity with what Hulett referred to as “fire-related injuries.” Hulett didn’t know the status of that victim, but did say the injuries weren’t believed to be life-threatening.

Because of privacy laws, Hulett said he couldn’t identify the injured firefighter or the resident who was injured.

After the firefighter was taken out of the house, the department continued to battle the fire, which proved challenging because of the below-zero temperatures Monday. Hulett said at one point the air temperature was 13 below zero.

“With all the flowing water, everything basically had a coat of ice on it,” he said. “It just makes things more difficult, and then you add the wind. Once the flames vented through the windows and roof it just fanned the fire even more so.”

He added that the department had to call in most of its off-duty firefighters so it wasn’t the same people standing out in the cold.

“Fighting a fire in this kind of weather is labor-intensive” he said. “It took a drain on all the guys.”

Firefighters didn’t leave the scene until 11:30 a.m.

Hulett said the house was a total loss.

“It’s pretty devastating,” he said. “The family lost everything.”

The American Red Cross was called in to help the family, and Hulett said the neighbors have offered to provide shelter for the family as well.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Hulett said it likely started in the basement. He added “there’s nothing to indicate that it was suspicious.”