Firefighters battle morning house fire - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Local ROTC member springs into action to help potential fire victims

Sgt. William Vanhooks Sgt. William Vanhooks

The cause of a house fire on Evansville's east side has been ruled "Undetermined" at this time.

That's following an investigation into the Wednesday morning in which authorities said they didn't find anything "Incendiary" in nature.

The fire broke out around 7 Wednesday morning at 731 South Cullen Avenue. the actual fire damage was confined to a small area, but the home received moderate to severe smoke damage throughout.

Before firefighters could even get on the scene, one man had already beat down the door to check if anyone was inside. 

It seemed like a normal morning for ROTC Sgt. William Vanhooks.

"I was on my way to work talking to my wife," said Sgt. VanHooks.

That's when he noticed thick smoke and people gathering outside of this house.

"I kicked into gear. I just kicked down the door and the glass in," said Sgt. VanHooks. We thought there were people in there."

But the heavy smoke drove him out.

"I couldn't go too far in because of the smoke, just from my training in the military I knew where there was smoke there's fire," he said. "So I backed out."

Luckily no one was inside.

That's when firefighters arrived.

"They did ventilate the structure so they could see better," said Dan Grimm, EFD. "They discovered the fire was in the basement and went down to extinguish that."

It took firefighters about 20 minutes to put out the fire.

Officials want to remind people, Sgt. Vanhooks had some training, but it's usually not a good idea for people to help out in a fire.

"Unless someone is hanging out of a window or calling for help, I mean, it kind of goes against human nature not to try and help somebody, but when you break open a door or break out a window you're actually feeding oxygen to the fire and that makes it worse for the firefighters," said Grim.

Now that it is cold outside, fire officials also want to remind people to have a specialist check out their furnace to make sure it's clean and also check for carbon monoxide as well.

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