Authorities investigating Middletown house fire

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- A Middletown man was forced to escape through a window when his home went up in flames Monday morning, and authorities said they are still trying to determine the cause of the fire.

Residents of the area around Court Donegal in Middletown woke up Monday to the alarming sight.

"It was just flames shooting 50 feet high in the air, it seemed like," said Mike Huff, who lives nearby and witnessed the scene. "I called 911 right away and they told me to run down, stay on the line and make sure the owner was out of the house."

Huff said he ran outside and saw the man who lived in the house, 58-year-old Ross Compton Jr., walking down the driveway. Authorities said the man had escaped from the burning home through a window; he was treated at a hospital and released.

Later that day, the burned home was cordoned off with yellow tape, and police served a search warrant at the property. Fire officials said that their investigation is still in an early stage, but they are actively looking for the cause of the conflagration.

"There’s an extensive amount of work that needs to be done to attempt to try and determine the cause," said Deputy Chief Jeff Spaulding of the Middletown Fire Department.

Spaulding estimated that the fire caused around $400,000 in damages to the structure and its contents. The 2,000-square-foot home, which has four bedrooms and three bathrooms, was build in 1977 and valued at $179,000, according to the Butler County Auditor.

No human beings were harmed by the fire, but Compton's cat did not escape, according to investigators.

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