Harlan apartment fire blamed on cigarette - Omaha.com
Published Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 9:21 am / Updated at 11:26 pm
Harlan apartment fire blamed on cigarette

A fire in Harlan, Iowa, on Wednesday night started after a cigarette-lighting attempt went bad, the local fire chief said Thursday.

An apartment resident attempted to light a cigarette with a butane lighter, said Chief Roger Bissen of the Harlan Fire Department.

“He said it flared up on him and he tossed it, and it kind of rolled across the room and ended up catching the house on fire,” Bissen said.

The subsequent blaze injured the man, displaced eight residents and destroyed the 102-year-old Nielsen Apartments. The fire has been determined to be an accident.

About 6:05 p.m., the man called 911 while trying to put out the fire, Bissen said. The first units arrived about five minutes later.

Firefighters tried to enter the first-floor apartment but found that flames had already spread to the second floor, forcing the firefighters into a defensive mode.

More than 100 firefighters from several agencies responded, remaining at the scene past 3:45 a.m. Thursday.

The man, who suffered from smoke inhalation, was treated at Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan and later released.

The roof of the apartment building collapsed, and only the four outer walls remained standing, Bissen said.

Four volunteers from the American Red Cross provided food, clothing and shelter to the displaced residents, said Liz Dorland Straub, a Red Cross spokeswoman.

The eight-unit apartment house, at 707 Durant St., was between the Harlan City Hall and a business in the former Public Library.

Harlan is in Shelby County in western Iowa, about 50 miles northeast of Omaha.

Mike Brownlee of the World-Herald News Service contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1310, andrew.nelson@owh.com

Contact the writer: Andrew J. Nelson

andrew.nelson@owh.com    |   402-444-1310    |  

Andrew writes about virtually everything – crime, features, legislative news and small-town controversy – happening in Iowa.

Driver seriously injured in crash with semi
78th Street to close to through traffic
Primary battle between Battiato, Morrissey may be only race
UNMC appoints new dean for the college of dentistry
Jeff Corwin hopes to build connection with nature at Nebraska Science Festival
Metro transit recommends streetcar, rapid-transit bus line for Omaha
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
After decades looking in, Republican Dan Frei seeks chance to take action
Cause of Omaha power outage along Regency Parkway unclear
Ben Sasse, Shane Osborn try to pin label of D.C. insider on each other
Curious about government salaries? Look no further
Easter Sunday temperatures climb into 80s in Omaha area
Omaha police investigate two nonfatal shootings
City Council to vote on adding Bluffs pedestrian safety lights
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Midlands runners ready for Boston Marathon
Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
Party looks to 'nudge' women into public office in Iowa
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Meridian Med Spa
50% Off Botox®, Botox® Bridal Party, Fillers and Peels
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »