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Cause of Hays house fire can't be determined

7/29/2012

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

The cause of a fire that destroyed a Hays residence more than a week ago hasn't been determined -- and might never be known.

The state fire marshal's office, Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler said Friday, was able to determine where the fire started but "can't determine what started it."

The fire is thought to have started on the north side of the residence, he said, in an enclosed area on the outside of the house.

"They may never know," Scheibler said of determining the cause.

The fire at the house owned by Henry and Michelle Wiesner, 105 E. 15th, was reported shortly after 7 p.m. July 20.

The house was "heavily involved when we got the call," Hays Fire Chief Gary Brown said Friday.

The fire must have been smoldering, he thinks, but started burning when it was able to obtain a source of oxygen, perhaps by a window breaking "and grew explosively."

Scheibler said the fire was called in just seconds before 7:08 p.m., and when officers arrived about a minute later they reported the "whole back of the house was on fire."

Brown stopped short of saying the house was destroyed, but he said there was extensive damage.

He said the fire marshal's office was called to provide its expertise in examining the fire to determine a cause.

Brown said Hays had 16 building fires last year, but all of them required only single lines to fight.

Scheibler said the last large house fire in Hays was in 2005.