Monmouth house set ablaze

Polk No. 1 holds live-fire drill Saturday

Firefighters keep a watchful eye on a live-fire exercise on Broad Street.

Photo by Emily Mentzer
Firefighters keep a watchful eye on a live-fire exercise on Broad Street.

MONMOUTH — Saturday shortly after 2 p.m., the house at 135 Broad St. N. in Monmouth began to burn. Polk County Fire District No. 1 firefighters finished carefully creating ventilation points for the fire to get into walls and the attic, and set scattered hay ablaze using flares.


Firefighters worked to keep nearby trees from igniting.

The house, built in about 1890, was going to be demolished by the owner, but instead was donated to Polk No. 1 for live-fire training — a fitting end for an old, stout house.

Firefighters and members of the rehab team — 35 participants in all — ran drills all day Saturday before the final burn.

“It’s good practice for our rehab team, as well,” Fire Chief Ben Stange said. “They have to do medical exams after (firefighters) go through two air bottles. This lets them practice that, and gets our people used to going through that.”

The live-fire training was the final step in the firefighter academy for three new volunteers, Bo Camero, Schown Cantrell and Travis Emerling. The three were sworn into the district while the house burned behind them.

More than two dozen people gathered on Broad Street North to watch as the old house burned. Children and adult spectators gathered around the heat sensor, which showed how hot the fire burned. Many took pictures and video.

The exercise is useful to learn how fire behaves, Stange said.

“The drills in our drill tower — there’s no fire,” he said. “So it’s nice to go in and use our tools in an actual live-fire scenario instead of just talking about it.”

The fire took about an hour before the house was on the ground. Stange said a Polk No. 1 fire crew stayed on scene into the night to make sure people stayed away from the fire while it smoldered.

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