Oxygen Tanks Explode in Princeton House Fire - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Oxygen Tanks Explode in Princeton House Fire

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Crews were on the scene of a house fire for hours on Monday in Princeton, Iowa, that sent one woman to the hospital.

It broke out in two-story house on the 400 block of Lost Grove Road around 1:30 p.m.

Neighbors around that home were left shaken by a number of explosions, which were caused by up to ten oxygen tanks inside the house when the fire started.

"I talked to all my neighbors around and they all said that they could hear the booms," said Peggy Welke, whose property is directly behind the house that burned.

"It was like a bomb went off. It was kind of scary. The ground shook and windows rattled," said Jaydon Biles, who lives up the street.

The explosions drove quite a few neighbors out of their homes to take a look. When they did, they found the house on the corner fully engulfed.

"It was scary," said 8-year-old Lilyana Johnson. "We saw flames and smoke was coming toward us."

Those flames, fueled by the exploding oxygen tanks, were bigger and hotter than normal, creating extra challenges for emergency crews on the scene. They had to fight the fire from far away initially just to be safe.

One volunteer firefighter, a Muslim fasting for Ramadan, actually had to break her fast, drinking water for health reasons after a long, hard, very hot fight against the blaze.

"It's okay as long as you know - if my life is in danger or a health issue, you can break your fast and you can make it up at the end of Ramadan," Jodi Damron explained.

Damron says making the call the fight the fire despite the problems that posed for her religious observance was easy to do:

"We're taught with the Koran that we're supposed to be here for our community and I happen to be here in this community and I love it, so it's my pleasure," she said.

That dedication is shared by so many on the Princeton volunteer force and by crews from surrounding areas who answered the call to fight this fire.

"That's amazing how small towns can come together like that," Welke said. "I think they do great for volunteer. I think it makes you appreciate them."

And, neighbors say they are also grateful no one was seriously hurt.

The woman who was inside the house when the fire started was able to make it outside. She was taken to the hospital to be checked out just as a precaution.

The police chief, Brian Carsten, says a couple of firefighters also suffered minor injuries when they overheated. They were able to quickly cool down and are doing fine now.

Carsten says he will be holding onto one of the oxygen tanks that exploded for future firefighter trainings - a clear reminder of the risks that come with fighting a fire when oxygen tanks are involved.

Officials say the house was left structurally unsound by the fire Monday and crews planned to demolish it that night for public safety.

We're told Lost Grove Road will likely remain closed overnight so cleanup can be completed.

 

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