Fortunately, Columbia resident Allan Middendorf had fallen asleep on his couch Monday night rather than making it to bed.
“He said he worked pretty crazy hours,” Columbia Fire Chief Mike Roediger said. “I’d say he’s a very lucky man.”
A fire that started in the laundry room area of Middendorf’s basement spread upward to his master bedroom in the rear portion of the home at 962 Forest View Drive shortly after 4 a.m. Tuesday, resulting in heavy damage.
Roediger said Middendorf told him he was awakened after coughing up smoke and quickly evacuated the residence. He then called 911 from a neighbor’s home. There was no one else inside Middendorf’s home at the time of the fire.
Firefighters arrived on scene to see heavy flames shooting from the back of the residence. Columbia Assistant Fire Chief Jim Broshears said the flames were knocked down within about 15 minutes, but ridding the structure of heavy smoke took much longer.
“It was a long morning,” Chief Roediger added.
Firefighters remained on scene until about 11 a.m.
Columbia received assistance from the Dupo and Millstadt fire departments, as well as Columbia police and EMS.
In addition to fire damage to the basement, master bedroom and rear exterior, Middendorf’s home received extensive smoke damage throughout, Roediger said.
A cause of the blaze has not yet been determined. The Office of the State Fire Marshal was called to the scene along with an insurance investigator to help determine how the fire may have started.
Broshears added that the home had working smoke detectors.