New details available about Jerome apartment fire

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JEROME, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The Jerome City Fire Department confirmed that the fire at the apartment complex Heritage Homes, near Fillmore and Main Street, started in an attic above the bathroom.

Terry Plew, one of the victims displaced from the fire, recalled, "At first I couldn't figure out what it was. It just smelled like hot wires."

Plew said he was just watching television right before bed.

"My lungs had started burning and, of course, when I went to the bathroom to go to the bathroom, I could smell a burning smell," said Plew.

He said he went over to his neighbors, where the fire actually started, to see if she smelled anything.

"She said no, but her ceiling was blistering and brown. So, I went over to look at it and told her immediately to call the fire department and get out of the apartment," he said.

Fire Chief Jeremy Presnell from the Jerome City Fire Department said they arrived at the fire in about three minutes.

"They did recognize the fire was in the attic," Presnell continued, "They were able to quickly gain access and extinguish the fire."

Presnell said Jerome Rural Fire Department also came out and they had 19 people on the scene. Fire officials were there for about four hours.

"The fire had gotten into the insulation and the insulation just sits there and smolders and we just wanted to make sure we had it all out," he explained.

Residents said they speculated the ceiling fan in the bathroom started the fire, and the fire department confirmed.

"There was some recent electrical work done, specifically with the ceiling fan in the bathroom, but it was hard to tell whether that was the actual cause or not," Presnell said.

With the investigation over, Presnell said the results were inconclusive.

He said, "We've released the apartment back to the property owner and it's just undetermined."

Plew said he is glad it was not worse.

"I mean, I miss being here, but I have to say they set me up pretty nicely where I'm at," Plew said.

The complex is owned by the Twin Falls Housing Authority and they said they are accomodating Plew and the other victim.

Plew is staying in a hotel until Wednesday, Oct. 25 and brought his dog along with him, who he also took when the fire started.

"Housing set me up all the way until Wednesday morning in the hotel and then we'll decide at that point of where we go from there," Plew said.

The housing authority said they are still working with insurance and is not sure when the debris will be cleaned up.

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