Fire crews from Dover and Camden-Wyoming were on the scene Saturday afternoon as they knocked down a fire in a historic home at 20 S. Main St., Dover.
The alarm came in to the Dover Fire Department at 3:42 p.m., Fire Chief Patrick West said.
"We arrived to find heavy smoke coming from a three-story apartment building," West said. The building was constructed in the late 19th century, and is listed as part of the Victorian Dover Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been subdivided into apartments, West added.
Dover Police officers quickly blocked off the roadway as fire crews set up the department's ladder truck in the middle of State Street and extended a hose and ladder to the building roof. Neighbors and onlookers watched as firefighters clambered up ladders and poured water into the home.
No flames were visible from the street, although thick, gray smoke billowed from broken windows and eaves under the roof.
One fireman climbed onto the roof from a ladder at the side of the burning home and used a power saw to cut a hole in the roof to create extra ventilation. Smoke trapped in the attic burst into the air as he used the blunt end of an ax to smash open the hole he had fashioned in the roof.
At one point, water shot through a broken attic window in the rear, soaking people in the back alley.
Even as water was cascading into the building, firemen wearing portable oxygen tanks and breathing masks were going in and out via the front door, searching for possible victims. West later confirmed everyone had escaped the blaze.
"We did a primary and secondary search, but with no results," he said.
There were no civilian injuries, although one firefighter was treated at Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital for minor burns to his face, West said.
At least three residents of the home watched the fire from the street. One young woman was holding a child wrapped in a blanket while a man made calls on a cell phone.
It took approximately half an hour to extinguish the blaze. There was no apparent damage to adjacent homes, including the historic Annie Jump Cannon House, just south of the fire site. That building is home to the president of Wesley College.
In all, 42 firefighters responded to the fire. Backup crews from Clayton and Hartly stood by at the Dover fire hall to respond if any calls came in while the Dover crews were busy, West said.
This was the second fire of the day, West added. Firefighters had responded to a house fire at 12 N. New St. at approximately 10:20 a.m. There were 27 firefighters fighting that fire, he said.
Page 2 of 2 - The Dover Fire Marshal is investigating both incidents.