Man killed in Jewell house fire identified

Grayson Schmidt Special to the Herald
A house fire in Jewell last week left one man dead. Photo courtesy of Jewell Fire and Rescue

The man killed in a Jewell house fire early last week has been identified as 73-year-old Gary Carlson, according to the State Medical Examiner’s Office.

Firefighters were called to 3685 Poplar Grove Ave. at 12:02 a.m. Monday, April 30, after Jewell Fire and Rescue Chief Duane Hendrickson said a passerby returning home from an emergency room shift in Ames noticed the blaze and called 911. Upon arrival, Hendrickson said first responders were met with a property already completely engulfed in flames.

Hendrickson added that the property owner — later identified as Carlson — ran a salvage business, so the home was surrounded by old cars, a liquid propane tank, inflated tires and other materials that caused explosions. Wind speeds of at least 25 mph quickly spread the flames spread to a nearby garage and abandoned farmhouse on the property.

Between 35 and 40 firefighters from Jewell, Story City, Stanhope and Ellsworth worked until about 5 a.m. to extinguish the blaze that reportedly covered several acres. Based on the amount and type of damage at the scene after arrival, the fire department is speculating that as opposed to a sudden explosion, the fire likely burned for at least an hour before anyone noticed and called it in due to how rural the property is, Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson said that upon arrival, responders were not sure if Carlson, who often used a motorized chair to get around, was home at the time of the incident. However, according to Hendrickson, they later found his car at the scene of the fire and confirmed with a family member who lives off-site that he was not out of town at the time.

Carlson was ultimately found inside the destroyed home and was taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny where an autopsy was completed Saturday.

Authorities said that the fire does not appear suspicious.