Weekend fire destroys St. Anthony home


ST. ANTHONY — A man’s dog was credited with alerting him to fire early Sunday in an incident that ultimately ended with a wind-whipped rekindle destroying the St. Anthony home.

Units of the St. Anthony Volunteer Fire Department were called to the Shawn Betz residence at 4166 S. Santine Road at 1:38 a.m. Sunday.

Betz had been alerted to a fire by his dog and had safely exited and dialed 911, according to Fire Chief Scott Uebelhor.

The core of the two-story, aluminum-sided house was a log home, Uebelhor said. The original fire was electrical in nature and was located in the ceiling area of a basement furnace room.

St. Anthony called for tanker and manpower assistance from the Schnellville Volunteer Fire Department.

Uebelhor said a basement water line burst during the initial fire, helping to limit the fire somewhat. Heavy timbers were damaged by fire but water damage was isolated to the basement area.

St. Anthony responded with four trucks and 26 firefighters and Schnellville assisted with 15 firefighters and its water tanker.

Given the weekend’s gusty winds — there were gusts exceeding 30 mph — a thermal camera was used during the three-hour initial response to search out hot spots, Uebelhor said. Knowing those winds posed a lingering danger, Uebelhor said he returned to the scene at 6:30 a.m. Nothing unexpected was found but the department was planning another visit at daylight to further comb for remaining hot spots, Uebelhor said.

A rekindle was reported 20 minutes after the fire chief left, with westerly winds causing a rekindled fire to engulf the porch area and east side of the house and, ultimately, the rest of the structure.

Once again, Schnellville supplied a tanker and manpower assistance while Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services kept an ambulance on standby.

There were no injuries during either callout, but the rekindled fire destroyed the house.

Andy Rohleder assisted by bringing a trackhoe that was used to bring down the remaining structure, which was insured, according to Uebelhor.

Betz and his dog are staying with family, according to the St. Anthony chief.

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