Firefighters from Atlantic and Marne were called to the scene of a fully involved house fire in Atlantic early this morning. The call was dispatched at 3:09-a.m., for a structure at 600 Oak Street. The house was formerly known as the Hockenberry-Mullen Funeral Home. The structure was vacant, but authorities said young people had a tendency to use it as a hang out.
Witnesses said the flames started on the upper floor of the east side of the home, in an area that served as an apartment above the garage. The flames quickly engulfed the upper floor, and embers, fanned by brief, strong gusty winds from time-to-time along with thick gray smoke, flew through the air. Firefighters doused a house across the street to the north with water, to prevent that structure from catching fire. A neighbor who lives nearly a full block to the north said she could see embers flying by her house.
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Firefighters nearly had the flames contained, when the area above the garage collapsed, sending another round of flames into the air. Crews remained on the scene this morning.
Atlantic Fire Chief Mark McNees said they hadn't been able to enter the structure early this morning to try and determine what caused the blaze, and whether their were any victims. The fire was declared under control at 4:37, but smoke coming from the home was still visible blocks away, as of 5:30-a.m.
Assisting at the scene were officers with the Atlantic Police Department, Cass County Sheriff's deputies and Medivac Ambulance