Mills County Sheriff Eugene Goos confirmed Monday that an investigation into a New Year’s Eve fire that destroyed a home at 16683 Alcorn Ave., near the Bellevue Toll Bridge, has included a search for human remains.
Law enforcement officers from the sheriff’s office and Iowa State Patrol discovered the fire shortly after 9:30 p.m. last Tuesday after responding to a report of a possible break-in from a private alarm company. The home’s owner, 69-year-old Gerald Nibbe, said he was in Omaha visiting a relative when he learned of the possible break-in from the alarm company and law enforcement officers.
His home was ablaze when Nibbe returned between 11 p.m. and midnight. Firefighters from Pacific Junction, Glenwood, Oak Township and Lewis Township battled the blaze overnight, but eventually let it burn itself out. The fire continued to smolder throughout the day Wednesday and into Thursday.
Investigators from the sheriff’s department and Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office have combed the scene of the fire but have been unable to determine a cause. Goos said they’ve found no evidence of human remains, but a missing Council Bluffs man, 26-year-old Travis Bach, is believed to have driven a vehicle found near the fire scene. Bach’s family has filed a missing person’s report with the Council Bluffs Police Department.
Goos acknowledged the “huge possibility” the person involved in starting the fire may have perished in the blaze. He said because the fire was burning at extremely hot temperatures for several hours, it’s possible remains and evidence leading to the cause of the fire may have been destroyed.
Goos said the investigation into the fire is continuing.