A Friday evening fire south of Defiance heavily damaged a home on Bowman Road and displaced its occupants, while several firefighters were treated for minor ailments.

Firefighters were called to the Randall and Melvelynn Rue residence, 25772 Bowman Road, just east of Ohio 15 in Highland Township at 8:27 p.m. Friday.

According to Highland Township Fire Department Capt. Brian Berry, when firefighters arrived they found smoke emanating from the back of the home, near its electric meter. That is where the fire is suspected of starting.

Berry said the cause has been classified as unintentional and undetermined.

Upon entering the ranch-style home, he explained, firefighters discovered that the “fire went up the wall near the power panel into the attic space and spread throughout the attic end to end. It started out as smoldering, then the flames flared up. It took a little bit of the roof out above the power meter. It took out a little bit of the roof structure.”

He added that “due to the intense heat and humidity” of the day, a variety of area departments were called to the scene — 53 in all. The high temperature recorded Friday at the Defiance County Airport was 94 degrees.

Another challenge, according to Berry, was finding enough personnel due to the fireworks display Friday night in Defiance. While some off-duty or volunteer firefighters were attending that event, he indicated, Defiance firefighters had a special detail there.

“This type of fire would normally be taken care of by two, maybe three, fire departments, and that’s it,” he said. “... the heat and humidity — that’s a whole ‘nother problem in addition to the Fourth of July celebration in Defiance.”

Four firefighters were treated and released for heat-related ailments and “falling-through-floor incidents,” according to Berry.

No occupants of the home were injured in the fire, but they were displaced, and the home is “uninhabitable for now” as “about 75 percent of the ceilings” were pulled down and many electrical repairs will be needed.

Berry noted that firefighters used approximately 3,500 gallons of water.

He placed the home’s damage estimate at $60,000

While Highland Township/Ayersville firefighters were the lead department involved in handling the fire, seven others responded with equipment and personnel. They included Defiance, South Richland Township, Continental, Holgate, Paulding, Delaware Township and Auglaize Township.

Also assisting were the Defiance County Sheriff’s Office, Putnam County EMS, Continental EMS, Toledo Edison, the American Red Cross and the Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office.

Most firefighters cleared the scene by around 3 a.m., Berry indicated, but a fire watch remained — to prevent a rekindle — until approximately 6 a.m. Saturday.

Power was briefly cut off to a neighboring home, he explained, while firefighters extinguished the fire because both residences were hooked up to the same electrical transformer.

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