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97-year-old Gowrie home gutted by fire

Unoccupied house was being used for storage

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
A city of Gowrie excavator lifts the metal roof on this house so firefighters can get to the hot spots in the eves. The bulk of the fire has been put out, and firefighters were cleaning up with the help of thermal imaging cameras.

GOWRIE — A 97-year-old house filled with a family’s belongings was destroyed by fire Wednesday afternoon.

No one was in the home at the northeast corner of Lincoln and Pleasant streets, which was just being used for storage. But it looked as though all the stored things would be lost.

“We saved one box of pictures,” Kim Mitsven said.

The house belonged to her dad, Mitsven said, and he was letting her mom store stuff in there.

The large chest of photos was not in the house because the family needed access to the pictures recently, but they had planned on moving it in there.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Gowrie and Harcourt firefighters aim water where fire is smoldering under the metal roof at this unoccupied house at 1002 Pleasant Street. The house was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived. It burned inside for some time before flames burst out, charring every room in the house.

“The girls wanted to take it over a couple weeks ago, but I didn’t want to,” Mitsven said.

The fire could have been a lot worse.

“I was just glad to hear the house was vacant,” Gowrie Fire Chief Greg Benson said. “You hear house fire in town in the middle of the day and you start thinking search and rescue.”

Mitsven didn’t see the fire first.

“The girls were yelling, there’s smoke coming from the stucco house,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Gowrie and Harcourt firefighters put out the last bits of fire. Earlier flames were shooting out from the upper window at left and from this front door at this unoccupied house at 1002 Pleasant Street.

Gowrie city crews were on scene early on to cut the power from the house.

“There were flames coming out of the north end of the house,” said Chase Messerly, a city utility worker. “And a lot of smoke.”

Benson confirmed the fire had started in the northwest room.

“It looks electrical at this point,” he said. “The flames were going under the eves when the first trucks arrived. It was fully involved by the time we got going.”

The fire burned inside for some time before it broke out and was noticed. Every room was charred, Benson said.

“It’s totally gutted inside,” he said.

After the flames were down, a city excavator peeled the tin roof up so firefighters could reach hot spots underneath.

The house was owned by Robert Mitsven, according to the Webster County assessor’s online records, and was built in 1920. The fire was reported around 11:30 a.m., and firefighters had things under control before 12:45 p.m.

Gowrie and Harcourt fire departments responded to the scene.