Ben Baehr was sitting down to watch a movie at his Paris Avenue home in Hannibal Thursday night when something even more action-packed caught his attention - a large fire just three doors down.
“We looked out the side window of our bedroom and we saw flames shooting out the back end of the house, so we come out the front and looked out. I mean it was just filling up with black smoke everywhere,” he said.
Baehr estimates that at one point flames were shooting 12 feet into the air from behind the structure.
“They were getting pretty high,” he said.
As formidable as the flames were, they were quickly knocked down.
“They (firefighters) got it pretty quick,” said Baehr, who was busy taking photos of the scene. “I had to throw my coat on. Before I got out of the house they already had the flames on the back end out, so they were really quick.”
When firefighters arrived there was no doubt that 807 Paris Ave. was burning.
“Initial engine companies pulled up on scene and found heavy smoke and fire coming from the rear of the residence,” said Fire Chief Bill Madore, who reported 10 firefighters were at the scene.
Upon their arrival firefighters quickly confirmed that all occupants of the facility had made it out safely.
According to Jeff Shinn, two to three people typically stay in the house, which is a property of Shinn Residential Center.
“I just got here to make sure all those other people were out,” said Shinn, who lives just down the block from the fire scene. “They were all over there (across the street).”
A good 45 minutes after the initial alarm was sounded, firefighters were still busy.
“We’re still extinguishing some hot spots and then we’ll do a complete overhaul to make sure we’ve got the fire completely out,” said Madore.
At the scene on Thursday night, Madore was not yet ready to make a determination on the extent of damage.
“We’ll have the building inspector arrive on scene as well so we can do an assessment of the structure,” said Madore.
Also undetermined Thursday night was the fire’s cause. According to Madore, an investigator from the state Fire Marshal’s office was due to arrive at the scene sometime after 10 p.m.