Century-old farmhouse burns to the ground

December 23, 2014
The charred remains of Paul Oomen's house at 2480 E. Hammett Rd. in Crystal Township smolders late Tuesday morning.

The charred remains of Paul Oomen’s house at 2480 E. Hammett Rd. in Crystal Township smolders late Tuesday morning.

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

CRYSTAL TWP. — Paul Oomen awakened at about 4 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23, to a loud “boom” and discovered smoke coming from behind his refrigerator. He escaped from his two-story farmhouse at 2480 E. Hammett Rd. with just a few possessions and called 911.

Oomen’s house, which was built in the late 1800s and has been in his family since the 1970s, is now a total loss. The approximate 2,500-square-foot home burned to the ground.

Heavy smoke continues to pour from  the site of a fire that destroyed a two-story century-old farmhouse in Crystal Township early Tuesday morning.

Heavy smoke continues to pour from the site of a fire that destroyed a two-story century-old farmhouse in Crystal Township early Tuesday morning.

Oomen is thankful he was able to escape the blaze unharmed, but obviously distraught that his home is completely destroyed just two days before Christmas. Oomen was the only person in the house at the time. No pets or farm animals were harmed, and his nearby farm buildings were not damaged.

Oomen grabbed a few framed photographs and a prized deer antler mount when he escaped his burning home, he said. “There was an explosion,” he said.  Although, he does not know what caused the explosion.

Crystal Valley and Walkerville fire departments battled the blaze on an unusually rainy December morning for approximately four hours. Crews finally cleared the scene at 8:30 a.m., he said.

Red Cross also responded to the scene, Oomen said. The site was still smoldering late Tuesday morning.

Oomen said he plans to stay with family in the meantime, and he will rebuild.

Oomen, a vegetable farmer, was right back at work at his farm Tuesday morning. “The cows are hungry,” he said as he drove off in his tractor.

No other information was immediately available.

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