A fire that gutted a house at 429 Walker St. early Sunday morning is being investigated by the State Fire Marshal's Office. Neighbor Al Mehrer, who lives just south of the house and whose bedroom window faces a south wall of the structure, said he was awakened at about 4 a.m. that morning by his cat Klawd, who kept jumping onto his chest. Mehrer at first didn't think much of it, but he and his girlfriend quickly realized the neighboring house was ablaze and called the fire department. The fire, which melted vinyl siding on Mehrer's home, took about three hours to put out. Mehrer praised the West Plains Fire Department for its quick response to the call.   

The West Plains Fire Department responded to a report of a structure fire at 4:02 a.m. Sunday at 429 Walker St.

Lt. Grant Sholes with the fire department reported firefighters arrived to find heavy flames through the roof and a side window of the one-story home. According to the report, it took firefighters from West Plains and surrounding departments three hours to get the fire under control, and still another four hours to clear the scene.

A 250-gallon propane tank located 20 feet away from the house was protected by firefighters until the fire no longer posed a threat to the tank. It was later learned the tank was empty.

After the fire was extinguished, firefighters conducted a search for victims within the structure and found none, and no injuries were reported.

An investigator with the Missouri State Fire Marshall has been requested to assist the ongoing investigation for the cause and origin of the fire.

A nearby house sustained light damage to its siding which melted due to the heat. Estimated property and contents losses is valued around $45,000, according to the report.

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