Bakersfield man dies in Sunday morning fire
A Bakersfield man died early Sunday morning in a fire that swept through his motorhome parked on Zastrow Lane off Highway 142.
The body of Charles Fienhold, 61, was found in the burned-out motorhome that served as Fienhold’s permanent residence, said Bakersfield Volunteer Fire Department chief Greg Watts. Authorities were alerted to the fire about 5:30 a.m. Sunday, April 15, after Fienhold’s brother, John Fienhold, whose camper home was parked about 5 feet away, woke up and saw smoke and flames coming from his brother’s motorhome and called the sheriff’s department, Watts said.
The first firefighters on scene reported seeing smoke coming from the motorhome’s doorway and flames coming out of the roof vent, Watts said. John Fienhold was standing in the doorway with a garden hose, spraying water on the fire, Watts said.
Firefighters wearing self-contained breathing apparatus entered the motorhome and “knocked out windows to let the smoke out,” Watts said. They also discovered Fienhold’s body.
Tecumseh and Caulfield VFDs responded in mutual aid. Ozark County Sheriff’s deputies Tiffany Fox and Curtis Dobbs and Howell-Oregon Electric Co-op also responded; the state fire marshal was summoned.
John Fienhold told Watts he didn’t know what woke him, but when he did wake up, he noticed “electricity popping,” Watts said. “He said he got up to see what was going on and saw flames going out the roof vent” of his brother’s motorhome.
Firefighters were able to save the three other campers parked near Fienhold’s, Watts said, adding that if John Fienhold hadn’t awakened, the fire would have gotten his camper too.
Responding to questions from the Times on Monday, Mike O’Connell, communications director with the Missouri Department of Public Safety, confirmed the identity of Charles Fienhold as the victim and said he lived alone in the motorhome.
“The Division of Fire Safety has listed this fire as accidental,” O’Connell said in an email to the Times. “There was nothing suspicious at all at the scene. The most extensive fire damage was to a fold out bed, which was situated over a greatly overloaded power strip. There was also a space heater in this same area. The investigation could not rule out the overloaded power strip, the space heater or some item too close to the space heater igniting.”
See Charles Fienhold’s obituary on page 8 of this week’s Times.