Update: Discarded Fireplace Ashes Caused Massive Fire

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Lincoln Fire and Rescue say a family is without a home after a major house fire near 112th and Holdrege Streets.

Fire investigators determined the fire started in the garage by improperly discarded fireplace ashes. Inspector Ken Hilger says the ashes were placed in the garage Friday. But, he says, if ashes are not placed in a metal box and doused with water, they can ignite.

Fire crews were called to 1241 Piper Way just before 8 p.m. Monday.

According to Battalion Chief Eric Jones, before the first engine arrived LFR called for more help -- specifically more engines and tankers.

The neighborhood was recently annexed by the City of Lincoln and responding crews knew getting water to the fire would be a problem, particularly since no city water mains or hydrants had been installed.

In a public hearing in September 2012, the planning commission was concerned over the lack of hydrants in the neighborhood, but approved the annex because of a failing sewer system.

The neighborhood association was made aware of the increased emergency response time and that a city water line would not be built in the near future. The planning commission says the neighborhood still wanted to be annexed.

Jones said they called for assistance with water delivery from Southeast Rural, Waverly and Air Guard fire departments. Crews from these departments shuttled water between the dump tanks and 98th Street at Holdrege.

Hoses were stretched about 1/4 mile from the water dump tanks at Cessna Road and Holdrege Streets, to the fire. Jones said they estimate putting nearly 60,000 gallons on the house fire.

One viewer told 10/11 the flames were 30 feet high.

Jones said the residents had returned home to see fire in their garage and called 911. The residents reported that when they arrived, their garage door was going up and down repeatedly and they could see flames inside when the door went up.

Neighbors also said both residents made it out uninjured, but were unable to grab any personal possessions.

Jones said firefighters battled the flames with little relief from replacement crews because of the distance of the scene from the nearest fire station. Normal rotation is about every 15 to 20 minutes. For this fire, Jones said it was more like 30 to 45 minutes between breaks.

One neighbor was kind enough to offer crews the use of their garage to let the 80 or so firefighters get out of the cold and take a break.

Chief Jones credits the relationship Lincoln Fire and Rural Departments have with each other to fight this fire effectively. Most importantly, Jones said without the other departments bringing them water, this house would have been completely destroyed.

The house is a total loss of $250,000. The loss from contents inside the home is $200,000.

Some crews remained at the scene overnight to insure there is no rekindle of the fire.