WAKARUSA — A fire that caused significant damage to a two-story home, but no injuries, was blamed on a gas furnace turned on for the first time this season. 

The Wakarusa Volunteer Fire Department along with Baugo and Harrison fire departments were dispatched about 9:50 p.m. Monday to 207 S. Elkhart St. On arrival, firefighters found heavy smoke coming from the house, according to a report Wednesday from the Wakarusa Volunteer Fire Department. 

Upon making entry through the front door, they encountered high heat and heavy black smoke with flames in the center of the first floor of the house. The flames were quickly extinguished and the house ventilated. Firefighters discovered a large hole burned through the ceiling and flooring of the dining room.

No one was home at the time of the fire and no smoke detectors were found in the home. The homeowners came home soon after the fire was extinguished, the report said. 

An investigation as to the cause and origin revealed that the occupant had turned on the furnace for the first time since spring and then left the home.

The fire started in the laundry room that contained the more than 30-year-old, forced-air furnace that seem to malfunction and cause fire to be forced upward into the floor-joist spaces by the furnace blower fan and causing fire to be pushed through the heat registers throughout the house, the report said. 

Damage to the $200,000 building was estimated at $50,000, with damage to contents estimated at $20,000. No smoke alarms were present in the house, firefighters said. 

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