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Wind drives fire that destroys Kamrar home

-Messenger photo by Jane Curtis
Mike Tripp, far left, watches multiple fire departments battle the fire that destroyed his Kamrar home Monday.

KAMRAR — Mike Tripp watched Monday as his home burned, a complete section of his lower right pant leg missing and the skin beneath it scorched to a second-degree burn.

He swigged from a bottle of water.

On a day when nearly the entire state of Iowa was under a red flag wind and fire warning, Tripp had made a fateful choice.

The house fire was a result.

Tripp said he’d been outside “torching” when sparks blew onto the straw bales he’d stacked around the house’s foundation to protect against cold weather. When the bales caught fire on the unusually warm winter day, he tried to stamp it out.

He lost his pant leg and the home at 525 Oak St. in Kamrar.

The Kamrar, Stanhope and Jewell fire departments mustered to the afternoon call — Kamrar called for mutual aid from the others at 2:56 p.m. They supplied tankers and manpower.

But the wind moved the blaze efficiently.

A red flag warning is an alert for extreme fire danger due to weather patterns. The National Weather Service issued the red flag warning due to high temperatures, dry conditions and winds blowing from the south at 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph for most of the day.

Tripp, who has lived in Kamrar for 19 years, could only watch.

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