August 04, 2021

Firefighters battle house fire in sub-zero temperatures Friday morning

BRIDGEWATER — Bridgewater fire crews were assisted by departments from Fontanelle, Greenfield and Massena on a house fire that was reported shortly after 7 a.m. Friday. The house, in the 300 block of N. Main Street, was destroyed as a result of the blaze.

Bridgewater Fire Chief Daryl Christensen said that there was heavy smoke coming from the roof of the residence and flames coming from the overhangs when the first fire trucks arrived on scene.

“The reason it went so quick is because of the age of the structure. The way they built them back in the older days is the side walls are open from the basement all the way to the top. Once that fire gets in that outer wall, it’s pretty much a goner,” Christensen said. “You’ve got a constant draft from your attic anyway because your hot air is getting into the attic and it’s forcing it up through your roof vents. You start adding the heating from the fire, that makes it draft that much harder and then you start getting gasses built up in there, then it ignites.”

Christensen said the house was not structurally safe after the fire due to a caved in roof and a bowed out wall, so a backhoe was brought in to knock the house down into its basement.

No one was home at the time of the fire. The homeowner had left for work a short time before the fire was reported by a neighbor.

The temperature was approximately 5 degrees below zero, not including the wind chill, Friday morning. That presented several challenges for firefighters and other personnel on scene.

“We have to keep an eye on trucks to make sure they’re not freezing up, we have to keep the hoses cracked open to make sure we’ve got water going through them. Then, when you do that, you have hoses laying in the ground with water running out of them,” Christensen said. “That’s not to mention your gear is all wet that you’re wearing, and it’s freezing up. It gets hard to move and it’s not pleasant, but we do it.”

Numerous social media posts indicate the home is owned by Jeanne Jameson. A Venmo account has been set up for monetary donations to her @Jeanne-Jameson-2.

The four fire departments responding were assisted at the scene by the Iowa State Patrol, Adair County Ambulance and Alliant Energy.

Massena returned to their fire station shortly after arriving on scene as the situation was coming under control with those already there. Greenfield and Fontanelle crews were cleared of the scene shortly before noon and Bridgewater firefighters remained there until about 2 p.m. when the backhoe had completed its work. No injuries were reported from the event.

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.