UPDATE: Fire at Austin Mayor's Home

Posted at: 07/18/2014 9:13 AM
Updated at: 07/18/2014 10:57 PM
By: John Doetkott

Photo: Photo: ABC 6 News

(ABC 6 News) -- The mayor of Austin saw his home badly damaged after a fire broke out in his basement Friday morning.

Firefighters got the call around 7 a.m., and when they arrived on scene they found the fire already well in progress.

"It was pretty bad,” said Chief Jim McCoy of the Austin Fire Department. “We had a good fire burning in the basement and we had smoke on the above ground floors. We didn't know if there was anybody inside."

Mayor Tom Stiehm and his wife were able to get out of the house safely; unfortunately one of their dogs was not.

"One dog did perish, the other made it out along with the two residents of the house,” Chief McCoy said.

Stiehm credited his dogs with helping him lose over 100 pounds, taking them for frequent walks.

Stiehm was understandably too busy to speak to ABC 6 at the time, but firefighters said the incident could have been much worse.

"The residents do not remember hearing any smoke detectors go off,” Chief McCoy said. “It's a lesson to everybody. They were lucky to get out this time."

We spoke with Mayor Stiehm Friday evening.  He says although he does not remember hearing the smoke alarm, the home does have smoke detectors.  And a neighbor who came by to check on the family thought he heard them going off.

Two firefighters were treated for exhaustion and one neighbor was treated for smoke inhalation, but all are believed to be in good condition.

Fire officials said the house is unlivable and the State Fire Marshal's Office will be investigating the cause of the fire.

In light of the damage and loss of a pet’s life, officials said the incident is an unfortunate reminder about the need to be prepared.

"We need to make sure we have smoke detectors on every floor, in every bedroom, along with a [carbon monoxide] detector, and make sure they're working properly,” Chief McCoy said.