• Last modified 1059 days ago (Aug. 19, 2021)


Lightning blamed in home fire

Staff writer

A lightning strike is thought to be the cause of a fire that destroyed a rural Goessel family’s home early Friday.

Goessel, Peabody, and Hillsboro firefighters who responded to the blaze on 100th Rd. west of Newton were warned the house was mostly engulfed.

“The real concern was that there were cars in the driveway, which meant it was possible there could still be people inside,” Hillsboro fire chief Ben Steketee said.

Goessel firefighters who arrived minutes later said the house was completely engulfed.

“That means flames were coming out of all the windows,” Steketee said. “The roof was even starting to collapse, so it had been burning for a while.”

Robyn Hartvickson and Ethan Harris were on vacation when disaster struck their home. Goessel fire chief Matt Voth reached out to them hours later.

Goessel firefighters disconnected home’s electric service.

Power poles nearby were burned out from apparent lightning strikes, according to Steketee and Peabody department chief Mark Penner.

“Down the road about a quarter mile, a pole was just shredded and splintered,” Penner said. “It looked like a surge of power went into that line.”

The three departments ran water relays up a narrow, turning, driveway for four hours because there were no nearby hydrants.

Goessel fire department’s pumper truck arrived first, and firefighters doused outbuildings, cars, and a propane tank. Another of its trucks fed water to the first.

When Hillsboro firefighters arrived, Voth asked them stay on the road and run a line to Goessel’s truck, Steketee said.

“Now we’ve got a three-pumper relay, and there are no tankers on scene yet,” he said. “When Peabody arrived with their engine, they fed us a line and gave us water from their truck. We had a four-pump relay going on. I have never seen that one before.”

Peabody sent two firefighters take over for two of Goessel’s who had been dousing the blaze for more than an hour.

“We want you guys out of the smoke there,” Voth said over the radio. “We are relieving you guys on the hose end.”

“We’re out of water. Ask them to go get it,” a Goessel firefighter replied.

“Coming your way right now,” said another firefigher.

At 7 a.m., Voth ordered all departments to idle their pumps, take a break, and watch for rekindling sparks. An hour later, he cleared the scene.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist the family.

Last modified Aug. 19, 2021