‘Accidental’ fire destroys south-county home

Roxanne Murphy

REDBIRD — The home of Kyle and Samantha Hollandsworth at 4674 Gorrell Road in southern Gasconade County was a complete loss  Friday afternoon, according to Bland Fire Chief Douglas Nochta.

“The high winds were the worst,” Nochta said. “The fire started in the garage, but the east winds blew it into the rest of the house. When we arrived, the house was 85 percent involved.”

The first call from the neighbors went out at 12:36 p.m. and Bland Fire Protection was the first on scene at 12:51 p.m., followed by mutual-aid departments. Belle Assistant Fire Chief Nathan Abel said a neighbor that saw the smoke tried putting the fire out with a fire extinguisher, but quickly realized it was out of control.

High winds spread the fire into near-by brush and nearly six acres were engulfed.

“We had to divide our efforts between the house and the brush fire,” Nochta said.

Bland had seven of their firemen. They received mutual aid from Belle, Cuba, Gerald-Rosebud, Owensville, Mt. Sterling, St James and Vichy fire departments, and the Gasconade County Sheriff’s Office and Ozark Central Ambulance. Altogether, 22 personnel assisted. Each department brought one fire truck, except Owensville, which brought three trucks.

“With mutual aid, eight departments responded,” Nochta said.

Two family pets were lost in the blaze. 

“We had a forecast of 15 to 20 mile-an-hour winds,” Nochta said. “The home and the contents were a complete loss.”

Firemen fought the blaze and left the scene at 6:18 p.m., after extinguishing both the brush fire and the home fires. The family had insurance and declined assistance from the American Red Cross.

“I asked the State Fire Marshal to come out,” Nochta said. “There was so much damage, they couldn’t find any evidence.”

The fire was ruled an accident. No one was home at the time.

“As a department, we really appreciate everyone who helped out,” Nochta said of the fire-fighting effort in the Redbird community.