UPDATE: House consumed by morning blaze once priced at $575,000Cause of fire remains undetermined as ashes remain too hot. Fire was visible all around Lake Mitchell, and several neighbors called in reports after 6 a.m. Monday.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
The cause of a fire that destroyed a large lake house Monday morning in Mitchell was still undetermined later Monday because the remains were too hot to sift through, said Lyndon Overweg, chief of the Mitchell Department of Public Safety.
The house at 170 N. Harmon Drive, on the north side of Lake Mitchell, was engulfed in flames by the time the Mitchell Fire Division arrived on the scene at 6:30 a.m.
A neighbor across the lake reported the incident at 6:20 a.m., said Paul Morris, assistant fire chief. Mitchell dispatch said later Monday morning that it received several calls from residents in the area, both from across the lake and nearby neighbors.
Because the house’s back yard is on the lake shore, the fire could be seen clearly from various vantage points around the lake, including near the spillway just off state Highway 37. From that viewpoint, large flames could be seen lighting up the dark sky.
The owners of the house, Dennis Brakke, of Mitchell, and Rodney Brakke, of Omaha, Neb., were not at the residence at the time of the fire. They were at the residence Sunday but did not stay overnight, Overweg said. He and Morris said the two owners, who are brothers, rent the house to hunters and use it as a vacation home.
The Mitchell Police Division, Mitchell Fire Division and the state Department of Criminal Investigation are investigating the fire. Overweg said the three entities are always involved in investigating fires, and he does not suspect arson at this time.
The house was built in 1991 by Dick Muth, who resided there for 18 years but has since moved.
According to a 2009 real estate listing for the house on the Internet, it was 3,007 square feet and the asking price at the time was $575,000.
Firefighters also worked Monday morning to protect the house at 174 N. Harmon, immediately to the west of the burning house. Morris said they evacuated the residents of that neighboring house, and firefighters sprayed a portion of the home with water. The home did not sustain any damage, Morris said, and the residents were back in the home Monday morning.
The flames were under control by 9 a.m. as officials monitored the smoldering remains.
The house fire also sparked a grass fire on the lawn that spread and burned a large portion of the affected house’s deck on the water’s edge, Morris said.
Firefighters and police returned to the scene around 4:10 p.m. Monday to extinguish a few hot spots.
Overweg said the investigation will continue Tuesday.