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Short circuit started house fire Thursday

There had been rain and wind earlier, but Hastings Fire Chief Mike Schutt does not know if that caused a tree branch in the yard of Nate Appert on West Fourth Street to fall against the electrical box on the house Thursday morning. The result short circuit caused multiple fire origins in the Appert basement.

The resulting fire in the 1.5 story house did an estimated $50,000 damage. Family members who were sleeping when the fire started after 6 a.m. woke up to the sound of smoke alarms and were able to evacuate the house. No one was hurt, but the house was not habitable after the fire.

"When the fire began in the basement, it moved through the exterior walls of the house to the second floor," said Schutt. "The fire was confined to the walls, but we had to break down the wall to fight the fire."

The call came in at 6:19 a.m. to 522 W. Fourth St., and firefighters were at the scene until about 9:30 a.m.

A tree branch had fallen on the electrical lines coming into the house and shorted the wires in the basement. That caused a surge in the power line. The lines in the basement overheated, creating many points of shorting out, said Schutt.

"Fortunately, the family had a working smoking detector and left the house," he said. "That's so important."

The house was built in the late 1940s/early 1950s.