April 19, 2006 at 8:14 AM CDT - Updated July 2 at 8:25 AM
Fire Leaves Several People Without Home By: Wes Wallace
Cape Girardeau, MO - Don Rice saw smoke and didn't think twice. "I was driving on my way to a job and looked up at all the smoke, so I stopped and called the fire department," says Rice.
Within minutes, multiple fire crews and trucks arrived at a house in the two hundred block of Spanish Street. Fire poured and smoke billowed out from the rear and attic part of one home. It didn't take long for it to spread through it, and into the next home.
Before that happened, and before firefighters arrived, Rice managed to go inside the burning building.
"I heard some noises, and went in to see if there were any people there, but it was just a dog, a little puppy," recalls Rice, "So I grabbed him and made sure there wasn't anyone else around, but at that time the fire started coming through and I got out as quick as I could."
"Diamond" the dog escaped harms way, but his owner, and several other people weren't so lucky. The house where the fire started is actually set up into several apartments. No one was home when the blaze broke out. The next door neighbor, Dennis Pengelley, woke up to all the noise and ran outside, just as firefighters ran inside, slamming the front door into his face. Other than a gash on his forehead and some minor bleeding, Pengelley was otherwise unharmed. His house received some fire and smoke damage near the back.
Firefighters had an especially difficult time, especially since the first house was split into apartments with many additions and renovations.
"It creates several extra walls, layers of drywall, and on top of all that more plaster," explains Rick Ennis, Cape Girardeau's Fire Chief, "So it's very difficult to get to the seat of the fire, and at one point we had to back the crews out and go to a master stream on our aerial ladder with the water pipe and get it knocked down and send crews back inside."
As those crews used a lot of resources to battle the blaze, Don Rice took some time to think about the doggie rescue.
"It was pure adrenaline," says Rice, "I just didn't think much about it. I was worried someone might be hurt and needed help. Anyone would have done it."
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.