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Strait Avenue home reduced to rubble after Tuesday morning fire

The home was vacant, and had just been listed by a local realtor.

Strait Avenue house
Rubble is all that remains after a Tuesday morning fire at 523 Strait Ave. in Worthington. An excavator was brought in to bring the house down to protect neighboring properties.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — The Strait Avenue home that caught fire Tuesday morning is a total loss, according to Worthington Fire Chief Pat Shorter.

The Worthington Fire Department was dispatched to the scene at 8:52 a.m. Tuesday after electric utility personnel working down the alley from the property noticed flames coming from the home and reported it.

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“The house was fully engulfed when we arrived on scene,” said Shorter, adding that the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

The house had been a rental property, but its owners had decided to sell. The owners had been onsite Monday to clean, and exterminators had also been there that day. It’s believed no one was in the house at the time the fire broke out.

Worthington Fire Department battles house fire at 523 Strait Ave. Tuesday morning.
Firefighters from the Worthington Fire Department respond to a house fire at 523 Strait Ave., in Worthington on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. The fire was reported at 8:52 a.m.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

“We haven’t gotten all the rubble removed yet,” Shorter said.

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The state fire marshal arrived on the scene at approximately 1 p.m. Tuesday, and Shorter said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Firefighters were on the scene until about 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, their work sped up by an excavator that was brought in to knock the structure down to keep the fire from spreading to adjacent homes.

The Worthington Fire Department responded to a house fire at 523 Strait Ave., in Worthington, on Tuesday morning. Details of the fire were not available as of press time.
The Worthington Fire Department responded to a house fire at 523 Strait Ave., in Worthington, on Tuesday morning.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

“The main objective was to try to subdue the fire as much as possible to prevent exposure (to other homes),” Shorter said, adding that the decision to bring in an excavator was made fairly quickly after they arrived. “The age of the house helped facilitate the fire, and pretty strong winds out of the southwest certainly fueled the fire.”

The older home was of balloon-frame construction, meaning that the sidewalls were constructed with straight lengths of 2x4’s stretching from the basement block to the roof.

Rubble remains
The fire at 523 Strait Ave. in Worthington was reported just before 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 28, 2022.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

“The fire typically goes up the wall, into the roof, and then spreads down the rest of the walls,” Shorter said. “Eventually the roof will cave in, but out of concern for the surrounding structures, we pulled the roof down with the excavator and extinguished it.”

The fact that the house fire was on Strait Avenue — a one-way street with towering trees on both boulevards — made getting trucks into the area a challenge. Shorter said they were not able to bring in their ladder truck to battle the blaze.

Approximately 20 firefighters responded to the call.

“If we wouldn’t have brought in an excavator, we would have been there 10 to 12 hours to extinguish the fire,” Shorter said.

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Related Topics: WORTHINGTONFIRES
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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