Wednesday’s fire in Cedar Rapids that displaced three people and killed a cat was sparked when storage boxes next to a water heater ignited, officials said.
No one was injured in the fire at 155 19th St. NW, which was reported around 3:40 p.m. when a woman and her nine-year-old daughter got home and smelled smoke. Firefighters reported significant fire damage to the basement and smoke damage throughout the home.
Fire Department spokesman Greg Buelow said investigators determined the gas water heater was missing its weather cap and inner and outer inspection covers. He said the fire was likely the result of air inversion through the water heater’s flue vent and the missing cap and inspection covers.
Buelow said the fire serves as a reminder to keep weather caps and inspection covers on water heaters, and to keep at least three feet of clearance around gas water heaters.
Two adults and the young girl were displaced by the fire. The local chapter of the American Red Cross was offering assistance.