By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
An improperly used/maintained extension cord was blamed for a fire during the noon hour Thursday at a two-story brick structure at 917 N. Fourth, according to a press release from the Quincy Fire Department.
All five people inside a Quincy home safely escaped, but the building was a total loss. The three-alarm fire was quickly extinguished by the Quincy Fire Department, but everything that Paul Carel and his family owned was lost in the blaze.
"They said we lost everything. Everything is gone," Carel said as he stood across the street from the house that his family has rented for the last four months. "All of the stuff I've worked for, I've worked hard for. I work 10 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week or six days a week."
Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning said the department got a number of calls on the fire from neighbors. The first firefighters were dispatched at 12:32 p.m.
"When we arrived there was fire on the first floor and the fire was visible on the second floor," Henning said. "We got a good hit on the fire and downgraded to two alarms pretty quickly after we got here."
The building sustained heavy smoke and water damage in addition to fire damage.
Carel said his family quickly evacuated the building after it noticed the fire. Carel's wife, Loretta, his three grandchildren — ages 1, 3, and 4 — and the children's father, Paul Fields, safely exited the building and found shelter at a neighbor's house.
"They were in kitchen and smelled smoke," Carel said. "They walked into the front room and noticed the closet had smoke and fire coming out of it. They gathered everything and got out."
Carel, who works at U.S. Cooler, was at work when the fire started.
"My foreman came up and hollered at me and told me to grab my coat and to come on," he said. "He told me on the way home that my house was on fire."
Tax records indicate the property belongs International Properties Inc., owned by Chris Bickhaus.
Carel did not know what was next for his family.
"I guess we'll have to wait until the Red Cross gets here to see if they can help us out," Carel said. "We really don't have nowhere to go right now."
Henning said investigators from the QFD were going to inspect the building to try to find the reason for the blaze.
The fire was the second in a 14-hour span that QFD firefighters had to battle. Just after 10 p.m. Wednesday night, firefighters responded to a call at 422 Maiden Lane on Quincy's southwest side. Dan Dietrich, 52, died in that fire. Dietrich was the first person to die in a residential fire in Quincy in more than four years.