A fire that started in an attached garage Wednesday evening and spread to a house near 49th and South streets took firefighters 30 minutes to bring under control.
Firefighters saw smoke from blocks away as they rushed to 1932 S. 49th St. just after 8 p.m.,Lincoln Fire and Rescue Acting Battalion Chief Jim Bopp said.
Jesse Murphy and Sean Davids were working in the garage on Davids' 1995 Chevrolet Camaro when Murphy saw a spider, lit a paper towel on fire and threw it at the arachnid, city Fire Inspector Chuck Schweitzer said.
The towel started on fire rags that were saturated with brake cleaner fluid and other combustibles, he said.
Schweitzer said the men tried to put out the fire, but it spread quickly. With flames out of control, they grabbed a 3-year-old who was home with them and ran from the structure.
"This was a very preventable fire. Basically, by them doing this, it cost them the house and all their belongings," Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer estimated damages to the structure at $95,000, an almost total loss, and to contents at $40,000.
The fire also did about $5,000 in damage to siding and windows of a neighboring house.
Davids lived in the house with Nitika Murphy and her 3-year-old son. They do not have renter's insurance, Nitika said. Jesse Murphy is Nitika's brother.
A firefighter was injured at the scene and taken to a local hospital. Bopp said his injuries were minor and not burns.