MERRILL – A blaze that displaced a group of Merrill residents is being blamed on a short circuit in a ceiling fan, authorities said.

At about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday the Lincoln County 911 Communications Center dispatched the Merrill Fire Department for a report of a structure fire at 409 East Street in the City of Merrill.  

When crews arrived, all occupants were out of the building, according to a news release. The occupants could smell smoke in the residence but were unable to determine the cause.

Fire crews discovered a discoloration of the ceiling in the kitchen near a ceiling fan and used a pike pole to open up the ceiling. Inside, they found smoldering insulation along with burnt roof joists.

Fire personnel applied water to the area while exposing more of the ceiling. Using a thermal imaging camera throughout the house, crews determined that heat was contained to the area of the ceiling fan. After a thorough overhaul of the area, the fire was extinguished.

Since the power and gas was disconnected by Wisconsin Public Service for the safety of emergency responders, it left the occupants without a place to stay until the wiring in the home could be repaired. The American Red Cross had been contacted to assist occupants with temporary living arrangements. 

Investigators say a short circuit of the wiring leading to the ceiling fan caused the blaze.

No injuries were reported.