New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day fires damage two homes in Belle area; Owensville firemen respond

Roxie Murphy
Staff Writer

A house fire on Osage County Road 724 near Belle on New Year’s Eve was deemed a complete loss, according to Owensville Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Arnold.

“The house was already caving when we got there,” Arnold said. “We did an exterior attack and knocked the flames into the basement.”

The Owensville Fire Department was the first to arrive on scene. Arnold said the homeowner, KC Newton, had recently purchased the older home and had not moved in yet. “The older house had not had the electric turned on in a while,” Arnold said. “They had it turned on that morning.”

The owner worked on the house that morning, and reported that when he left everything seemed fine. “They left around noon,” Arnold reported. “When they came back at 3:30 p.m., the house was fully engulfed.”

The fire department received the structure-fire call at 4 p.m. and arrived on scene at 4:30 p.m., Arnold said. Bland Fire Protection District and Belle Volunteer Fire Department assisted in the call. 

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, although the guess is that it was an electrical issue. The State Fire Marshal’s Office was initially called to investigate.

“They said they are not going to come out unless I find something suspicious,” Arnold said.

The home is considered a total loss, and the fire is being ruled as “accidental” at this time. Arnold said the scene was cleared at 6:15 p.m., with no injuries reported.

Owensville firemen also assisted Belle’s department with a New Year’s Day structure fire at the 705 Parkview Drive residence of Pete and Leasa Elrod.

Belle’s Assistant Fire Chief Nathan Abel said the call was dispatched at 4 p.m. and firemen were enroute at 4:05 p.m.; they were on scene by 4:10 p.m.

“Heavy smoke on arrival coming out of the attic,” Abel said. “We made entry through the garage and found fire in the kitchen on the kitchen stove.”

Abel said the fire on the kitchen stove was in a laundry basket full of clothes.

“We thought that that was the fire, so we put the fan on the front door to clear the house. Then realized there was still an active fire and went back in and found fire in the master bedroom closet.”

Abel said they contacted the State Fire Marshal’s Office about the case because they could not distinguish one fire from the other.

“One in the kitchen, one in the bedroom and we could not find where the two were connected,” Abel explained.

Firemen cleared the scene at 8:24 p.m.

Mike O’Connell, communications director of Missouri Department of Public Safety, which includes the State Fire Marshal’s Office, said the fire is still listed as undetermined. “Division of Fire Safety says the cause of the fire is listed as undetermined,” O’Connell said in an email. “It is not considered a criminal matter in any way.”