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Victim identified in Estherville house fire


This news story was published on January 15, 2021.
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Photo of house fire via Estherville Fire Department.

ESTHERVILLE, IOWA – A man was found dead in his house after a house fire earlier this month in Estherville, police say, and an investigation is still being conducted.

On Saturday, January 2nd, 2021, at about 3:52 am, Emmet County 911 Communications Operators received a call from a neighbor advising that there were flames coming from a house near his location. Responding officers found the residence located at 1414 North 6th Street heavily involved in flames and smoke.
The Estherville Fire Department responded to the scene and were able to extinguish the fire, however, the house was heavily damaged during the blaze.

During the investigation into the fire, it was learned that the house was most likely occupied, and that the homeowner may be inside. The home was owned and occupied by Paul Ostendorf, age 69. Firefighters eventually recovered a body from within the home.

The body was recovered and taken to the Office of the Iowa State Medical Examiner for formal identification and possible cause of death. On January 11, 2021, Estherville Police were notified that the body had been positively identified as Paul Ostendorf. The cause of death has not yet been determined. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined and the investigation into both remains open.

The Estherville Fire Department was assisted at the scene by the Wallingford and Gruver Fire Departments, Estherville Ambulance, Emmet County Emergency Management, The City of Estherville Public Works, Black Hills Energy, the Iowa State Fire Marshall’s Office, The Emmet County Medical Examiner’s Office, and the Office of the Iowa State Medical Examiner.

First Responders would like to thank those citizens and businesses that assisted during the fire.

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