Lexington firefighters are trying to identify the cause of a two-alarm blaze that roared through a frame home at 114 Delmont Drive early Thursday afternoon.
Three firefighters were slightly injured — the most seriously hurt suffered a minor burn on the back of his hand — when a "flash-over" occurred as crews entered the burning building.
Battalion Chief Joe Best said some firefighters had entered the basement through the back of the house, and others were about to enter through the front when the flash-over occurred inside the first floor.
A flash-over happens when all the combustible materials in an enclosed space suddenly ignite, Best said. He compared it to tossing a match on charcoal that has been heavily doused with lighter fluid.
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"It can be a deadly situation for firefighters, and we were very fortunate that those men had not yet entered the front of the house," he said.
No one was taken to a hospital, according to Best.
Damage appeared to be significant, Best said, but investigators had not yet been able to make a full assessment late Thursday afternoon.
After the flash-over, commanders called in a second fire alarm, bringing additional firefighters and equipment to the scene, including extra ambulances. The influx of emergency vehicles spilled over Delmont Drive out onto Versailles Road, partially blocking one outbound lane.
Best said the additional ambulances were called because commanders initially feared the men in the basement might have been caught in the flash-over.
The flash-over blew out the front door of the house and shattered the windows, he said.
By about 3:30 p.m., the fire was essentially out, and firefighters checked for hot spots while investigators began trying to determine the cause.
The blaze apparently started in the basement, Best said.
Units initially were called about 1:30 p.m., and arrived to find what appeared to be a small fire confined to the basement.
"There was very little smoke and flame at first, but things went downhill very quickly," Best said. "It could have been very serious."
Ike Craycraft, who rents the home, said his son's fiancée, Shelley Douglas, was the only person in the house when the fire broke out in the basement. She tried to fight the blaze, but it got out of hand, he said.
Craycraft, who wasn't home at the time, arrived to find the street blocked with fire equipment, and thick black smoke filing the air.
"I said to myself, that smoke looks like it's coming from near my house," Craycraft said. He then found that it was his house.
Craycraft said he has rented the house for about a dozen years, but has no renter's insurance.
"It's unbelievable," he said. "I've never had anything like this happen before."