Update: Cigarette sparks house fire at 17th and A

Another house fire in Lincoln Wednesday night.  Firefighters spent nearly two hours battling a blaze that soon spread to a neighboring apartment building.

It happened outside a home near 17th and A streets around 6:30 p.m.  The fire department called extra crews before it spread to the apartment complex next door.  Investigators say it started with a cigarette that had been tossed onto some leaves between the two homes.

A Street will stay closed all night as crews make sure it doesn't rekindle.

Benjamin Mailand lives in the area and says, “I walked out of the house and I heard crackling and popping.  I ran over and saw the smoke.  It was obvious, shooting up the side of the house.”

Neighbors like Mailand know the resident is bound to a wheelchair and were quick to make sure he was okay.  Fortunately, he wasn't home.  Mailand says, “A minute or so after we walked out of the house, we heard something that I'm assuming was some kind of small explosion.  That's when the rest of the fire shot up.”

What they heard was the gas meter exploding.  Investigators say the home is a total loss at over $100,000.  The flames spread to through the attic to the neighboring apartment complex, causing another $40,000 in damage to that building.

Battalion Chief Bruce Sellon says they had to call in extra crews to battle both fires at the same time and they're making sure the flames don't re-ignite.  “Once the fire gets up in the attic, it's very difficult for us to get into the crevices and corners and insulation, so it does take quite a bit longer for fired to get under control when they're in the attic.”

Sellon says one firefighter did have to be taken to the hospital for some heat related injuries.  He says they were minor and expects that firefighter to be released soon.