UPDATE: Three people displaced after Dubuque house fire - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Three people displaced after Dubuque house fire

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Fire crews responded a little after 6 p.m. Sunday to the 300 block of Valeria Street in Dubuque Fire crews responded a little after 6 p.m. Sunday to the 300 block of Valeria Street in Dubuque
Giant clouds of smoke billowed from the duplex for hours Giant clouds of smoke billowed from the duplex for hours

DUBUQUE (KWWL) - Fire crews battled a major house fire in Dubuque Sunday night.

Dubuque fire marshal Mark Ludescher said three people lived in the duplex in the 300 block of Valeria Street. Only the man who owns the building was home at the time, and he escaped with minor burns.

He refused official medical attention, but fire chief Dan Brown said somebody, possibly a family member, drove the man to the hospital Sunday evening, where he was treated and released.

Monday, firefighters sifted through the charred rubble to find clues to what ignited the blaze.

"You know, any time you get a fire that starts on the first level and it's in the attic when you arrive, that means that the whole structure is involved," Brown said.

Firefighters attacked an aggressive blaze that devoured the structure of the house. Ludescher said it started on the first floor, near the kitchen.

"They did experience extreme heat conditions when they got in that second and third level, and, again, that's just another indicator of a dangerous situation," Brown said.

Neighbors say they heard a loud explosion before the house burst into flames.

Wayne Williams lives two houses down from the structure and arrived home soon after the explosion.

"I get back home and see this," Williams said, gesturing to the collapsed roof of the house behind him. "Then, basically, it was just a lot of smoke, and as it went on, as we was out here standing, looking at it, that's when the fire started building, like it caught on to some gas or something."

Officials say a number of things could have caused the catastrophe.

"We look at everything, from weather conditions to natural causes to things involving electrical, utilities, that type of thing," Brown said.

The night before the blaze, fire crews responded to the same street, at a house just a few places down from Sunday's fire. Residents say a grill there got out of control and started part of the porch on fire. Half-jokingly, several neighbors said, they hope their house isn't next.

"You could feel the explosion going," neighbor Bill Mayne said. "Then we looked out the window, and she called, Lisa, called 911 and the smoke was just coming out, and they got the guy out and we got his dog."

The owner's dog got out safely, and the other two who lived there weren't home at the time.

However, the fire chief said, "We did find two cats that did perish in the fire."

One of the women who lived in the home returned Monday afternoon to survey the damage. She was clearly emotional as the fire marshal showed her around and spoke with her, trying to get a better grasp on exactly what might have sparked the fire.

Ludescher said the structure had heavy smoke and water damage, but Brown said it still may be salvageable. It all depends, he said, on insurance and whether the owner wants to put in that effort.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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