Belmond, IA – An explosion and fire Monday, Dec. 12 about 5 p.m. destroyed the home of Bob and Kathy Vierkant and sent Mr. Vierkant to the burn unit at University Hospitals in Iowa City. The house is located about a mile north of Belmond on Taylor Avenue.
Mr. Vierkant was in the basement where there was an apparent propane gas leak, according to officials. The propane exploded, blowing out concrete blocks from the basement walls and pushing out frame walls on the main floor.
Mrs. Vierkant rushed her husband to the hospital in Belmond before firemen arrived. A helicopter took him to Iowa City. A family member said he suffered burns on 56 percent of his body, with the worst damage to his hands and arms. He will be hospitalized for some time.
The fire departments in Goodell and Clarion were called in to supply extra water and manpower. Belmond Fire Chief Dean Adcock said cold weather made fighting the blaze difficult, with breathing equipment freezing and face masks fogging up. He said he was hesitant to send men inside the house to fight the blaze because of unknown structural damage. It was a slow process to enter the house safely, he said.
Adcock said the fire was contained to the basement and the stairway, but upstairs walls were shifted out of place, and the whole house suffered water, smoke and soot damage. I believe it is a total loss, he stated. Some of the upstairs contents may be salvageable.
Belmond firemen returned to the house about 10:30 p.m. to extinguish a couple of small hot spots.
This is the second time the Vierkants have lost a house to fire. About 30 years ago their home in Meservey was destroyed