Des Moines House Fire Ignites Bullets as Brave Neighbor Battles Blaze

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A man working in his shop in north Des Moines took matters into his own hands after noticing his neighbor's home on fire.

Rex Bullard was working next door when he noticed smoke coming from a home in the 3500 block of 4th Street around 2:45 p.m.

“I saw a huge cloud of smoke coming out of the neighbor's back door. Grabbed the phone, started calling 911, grabbed the fire hose, threw it over the fence, connected it to their hose, kicked the back window in and started spraying the water as best I could on the rafters," said Bullard.

One person was home and made it outside safely. The resident reportedly had a lot of ammunition in their basement that started going off as Bullard and the fire crews battled the flames.

"There was a bunch of bullets shooting off in the basement down there,” said Bullard. "I’d say probably 200 to 300 rounds were going off all different times. It was kind of like I was in the middle of a war zone, lying there in the backyard just trying to keep my head low,” said Bullard.

When firefighters arrived and took over, they were more concerned with the flames than the ammunition.

“We're not real concerned about the ammo going off because it's got to have a projection. It's got to project through some type of barrel. What does concern us is if they have got a large amount of black powder,” said Des Moines Fire Department District Chief Matt Porter.

The homeowner and firefighters escaped without injury. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

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