Five departments battle Lehigh blaze

LEHIGH – A Lehigh home was considered a total loss after a fire tore through it Thursday afternoon.

A neighbor called in the fire at 6074 Linden St. around 2:30 p.m.

Lehigh Fire Chief Kirk Kelley said the fire may have started in the northwest corner of the house.

“The sheriff’s deputy who was first on scene said it was pretty far gone,” Kelley said. “It was pretty much fully engulfed by the time we got here.”

Most of the fire was in the attic, which fed the blaze.

“There’s so much air space up there,” Kelley said. “We couldn’t do an interior attack because of how intense it was and had to do everything on the exterior.”

Because of that intensity, firefighters from Otho, Duncombe, Dayton and Harcourt were called to provide mutual aid.

“It just wears out your resources,” Kelley said.

In addition to firefighters from the five communities, Dayton Rescue also responded.

Kelley said the house had been vacant for two weeks.

“There was nobody home and there were no animals in the house,” he said.

Dennis Kloberdanz and Thomas Bailey were listed as the property’s deed holders on the Webster County assessor’s website.

Though the exact cause couldn’t be determined Thursday, Kelley said evidence suggested it was an accident.

“The gas was shut off two weeks ago,” he said. “And I’m about 90 percent sure it wasn’t arson, because there were no footprints in the snow or anything that suggested somebody came up to the house.”

He added the electricity was still on in the house, and it has not been ruled out as the cause of the fire.

MidAmerican Energy was contacted shortly after firefighters arrived, according to scanner traffic.

Firefighters spent nearly an hour and a half on the scene until the fire was contained.