A Council Bluffs man has been missing since New Year's Eve, and the car he had been driving was found outside a burning house in rural Mills County, Iowa.
Investigators have not found any evidence that the man, Travis Bach, died in the New Year's Eve fire, Sheriff Eugene Goos said.
Bach, 26, lives with his parents in Council Bluffs. His mother, Colleen Bach, said she and her husband, Phillip, last saw Travis the morning of Dec. 30. They were out of town over New Year's and reported Bach missing after they returned home Thursday.
The car, a Ford Escort, was loaned to Bach by its owner, Goos said. The home, the residence of Gerald Nibbe, is in northwest Mills County, across the river from Bellevue.
Colleen Bach is not sure what her son would have been doing at the house or why the car he had been driving was there. But she is afraid that her son might have died in the fire.
“It's not like him not to call,” she said.
The family has filed a missing person report with Council Bluffs police, Sgt. Chad Meyers said.
“We're trying to stay positive,” Colleen Bach said. “We just wish he'd come home.”
Her son has never gone missing before, she said, and has not been at his job — he is a cook at a restaurant — since leaving work about 9:30 p.m. New Year's Eve.
“He hasn't even picked up his paycheck,” she said.
She wants a thorough search of the home's wreckage.
The State Fire Marshal's Office has twice sifted through the wreckage, Goos said. “They can't find any human remains in there.”
Goos said the fire was unusually intense because large amounts of tar and gasoline were inside the home. A great deal of material was being stored there, he said.
Authorities said the severity of the fire means that determining its cause will be difficult, if not impossible.
The fire was discovered by deputies after a security company reported that the home's motion detector and security alarms were going off. The house was burglarized several times in 2012, Goos said.
Nibbe has said he was in Omaha visiting his son at the time of the fire.
Travis Bach is described as a white male, 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.
Anyone who has seen him is asked to contact the Council Bluffs Police Department at 712-328-4701 or the Mills County Sheriff's Office at 712-527-5233.
Kirby Kaufman of the World-Herald News Service contributed to this report.
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