BOONE COUNTY, Mo. - The Boone County Fire Protection District said a fire that caused major damage to a home west of Columbia early Tuesday started in the area of the breaker box or electrical panel.
Assistant Chief Gale Blomenkamp said the majority of flames came from that area. But the department is not ready to rule the cause of the fire as electrical.
"Nothing tips our hat to being suspicious," he said.
Blomenkamp said while firefighters "can't rule out" the fire having an electrical cause, they also cannot say the fire was not started by someone or other causes.
"It's really one of those things where we have to do some more digging," he said.
County records show the house was originally built in 1955. Blomenkamp said this could have something to do with why the fire was difficult to put out.
"Part of the issues that we faced this morning on the fire is that a typical house that's being built today has a drywall ceiling, so if we get a fire above the ceiling in the attic space, we can make entry into that residence and start pulling that drywall ceiling and then have access to the fire and we can get hoses up in there and get it put out," he said.
But this house had a plywood ceiling, which kept firefighters from poking a hole through the ceiling. Blomenkamp also said the roof was on fire when firefighters arrived, which he said meant the house had been on fire fire a while before firefighters arrived.
He said the house is a total loss.
According to documents on the Boone County Recorder of Deeds website, KEC Residential LLC bought the property March 6. Blomenkamp said he spoke to the owner of the house Tuesday morning, and the owner had planned to "rehab that property" and had "put a lot of work into it."
Before KEC Residential LLC purchased the property, the property had been owned by Nationstar Mortgage LLC, records show. The company had purchased the house in November, after the house was foreclosed.
According to the Boone County Fire Protection District's dispatching records, the department also went to a call about a fire at the property on Dec. 23 .
"There was somebody living in that place at the time of that fire in December. It was a very small fire that was suspicious in nature," Blomenkamp said. "We're not sure if it was arson or accidental but it was suspicious in where and how it started."
He said it was a small burn hole in the floor, but the fire that occurred Tuesday was completely different.