It is not unusual for Eldorado Fire Chief Mike McKinnies to show up early to a house fire, but he is not often the one who reports a fire when off duty.
That was the case Saturday night when McKinnies and his wife were at home smelling smoke.
"My wife looked out the front door and said there was a lot of fog or a lot of smoke out there," he said.
Fearing his own house on Carnahan Street was on fire, McKinnies went outside to investigate.
"It wasn';t mine," he said.
But he saw smoke exiting the second story of his next door neighbor, Calvin and Rachel Lauderdale';s house at 2609 Carnahan said.
McKinnies called Saline County Central Dispatch to report the fire at 6:39 p.m. and firefighters arrived at 6:43 p.m.
Firefighters were at the scene about four hours trying to save the home that was owned by Donna Littrell, but the older home was gutted and his neighbors lost everything, including pets.
The couple had just left home to drive to Harrisburg to eat and once they got word of the fire returned.
"There was an electric heater in the bedroom. It was plugged in and was close to the bed. It';s possible it caught the bed on fire," McKinnies said.
There were 22 firefighters, two engines and a service company at the scene.
On Monday firefighters responded to a sighting of smoke coming from 1420 Locust St., an abandoned building across from Beck';s Pharmacy owned by Andy Freeborn.
Chuck McGill of the old Standard Oil station called the fire department and reached Jack Johnson who then called Saline County Central Dispatch to tone the firefighters.
Firefighters learned kids had been in the building, likely accessing through a fire escape and kicking in a deadbolt door that leads to old apartments.
Firefighters found a metal bucket that had burned items in it which had caused the smoke. There was no damage to the building from the fire and the police will be keeping an eye out for youth entering the building.
McKinnies said firefighters contacted Freeborn -- who lives in Marion -- regarding the need to secure the building.
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