July 12, 2024

Smoke warnings issued Thursday morning due to house fire at Colfax

Residents warned of hazardous smoke coming from home on Walnut Street

Firefighters from multiple agencies in Jasper and Polk Counties dose the flames of a house fire on Thursday, April 20, in Colfax.

Several fire departments responded to a house fire Thursday morning in Colfax and told residents told to shut their windows due to the hazardous smoke.

No people were in the house at the time of the fire.

Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty told Newton Daily News at the scene that fire departments arrived at about 9:20 a.m. to dose the flames of home on the 300 block of South Walnut Street. Halferty said Colfax Fire Department was on scene quickly, along with the local police department.

“They saw smoke and flames from the second floor,” Halferty said, noting Colfax then sent alarms to other agencies for assistance. “They did a second alarm first, which was Mingo and Prairie City. They went to a third alarm, which was Baxter and Newton. They also requested Mitchellville and Bondurant in Polk County.”

The reason why so many other fire stations were called is because of the home itself. Halferty the old-style, two-story house had a balloon-frame structure, which allows fire to spread rapidly from floor-to-floor. By 11:33 a.m., fire crews were still unaware what started the fire and had trouble accessing the fire.

“It got up into the walls and the attic and eaves, and at some point Colfax Fire Chief J.D. Smith had to make a decision to pull out and go defensive only. Meaning we weren’t going to be inside the house anymore because it was too dangerous,” Halferty said. “Our main concern now is to contain it.”

As well as to protect the “exposures” on the south side, meaning the newly developed homes built adjacent to the property.

While crews were putting out the fire, the wind picked up and blew smoke through the abutting neighborhoods. James Baldwin, a resident of Mingo, was visiting the bank when he saw authorities respond to the fire. Baldwin said the black smoke was so thick it was impossible to see the buildings around the house.

Jasper County sent an emergency alert to tell the people of Colfax “to shut all windows due to hazardous smoke from house fire.” Halferty said first-responders did not want people to breathe in the smoke. Water supply reserves were good, but Halferty expects residents will see low water pressure for a while.

The home was built in 1890 and belongs to resident Micky Mclain.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.