AUSTIN (KXAN) — Firefighters with the Austin Fire Department deemed the cause of a major house fire in central Austin Saturday officially undetermined. They say it was most likely caused by wiring issues.
The call came in around 8:14 p.m. at a house located at Red River and East 45th streets. Fire Chief Thayer Smith said a neighbor said she initially thought her house might be on fire because she smelled smoke but as she evacuated her house, she realized it was the house next door.
The first units arrived on the scene within two to three minutes and were told that the person who lived at the house was there. Smith said because they saw a car in the driveway as well, they began searching for the reported victim.
“Sometime during the firefight, relatives showed up to inform us that the occupant was actually out of state and was not home,” Smith said. At that point, firefighters were pulled out of the home and they began to focus on putting the fire out.
AFD tweeted around 8:50 p.m. that the fire on the second floor of the house was through the roof and into the attic.
The house is older and is made of solid wood, which made the fire more difficult to fight, and firefighters were having trouble accessing what was thought to be a second floor of the home but was actually an attic with outdoor access and that had a living space in it.
“It did start on what appeared to be the first floor in the back of the house,” Smith explained.
A firefighter was treated at the scene for heat exhaustion by Austin-Travis County EMS. Two extra engines and eight additional personnel were brought out to the fire as a precaution to relieve initial fire crews because of the intense heat.