by nathan oster
An “appliance malfunction” has been pegged as the likely cause of a fire that completely destroyed a house approximately 9 miles east of Greybull on Sunday night.
Shell Fire Chief Mike Nelson said no one was home at the Art Thomas residence at 890 Highway 14 when the fire was reported at about 6:15 p.m., and that the structure was fully engulfed in flames when the first firefighters arrived on scene.
Neighbors reported the fire.
While the house was a total loss, firefighters were able to prevent it from spreading to other structures on the property, including a barn just below the house.
Nelson said the Shell Fire Department responded in full force to the initial call and that a skeleton crew remained on site throughout the night and into Monday morning before clearing the scene at around 11 a.m. A fire investigator who visited the site made the determination that an appliance malfunction was to blame, said Nelson.
Nelson said Art Thomas passed away a few years ago and that his wife had recently been in the hospital due to a broken hip and hadn’t been home in awhile.
The Shell Fire Department was assisted at the scene by members of the Greybull Fire Department and South Big Horn Search and Rescue. The GFD supplied a tanker and a pumper truck, as well as a crew of guys. “They’re the greatest people in the world,” said Nelson. “And Search and Rescue, they were awesome too. They helped out in any way they could, even switching out air tanks for us. They were fantastic.”
Nelson said the department was also appreciative of Jim McLauchlan and his employees at Dirty Annie’s, who brought food and drink to the scene Sunday night and then again Monday morning for those firefighters who stayed through the night.