Fire has struck a cruel blow to the southwest Iowa man who was trying to make Christmas merrier.

Firefighters from Villisca Monday responded to a fire at a two-story Nodaway residence serving as a storage facility and workshop for Vince Else, who has collected, restored and provided toys for distribution to children for decades.

Corning Fire Chief Donnie Willet served as investigating officer for the fire, which was located next to Else’s residence.

Willet says the structure was engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived at 12:30 a.m. Eventually, fire officials decided it was not safe to continue battling the fire and allowed it to burn itself out. Willet says the house is a total loss.

Fortunately, Willet says not all of the toys Else collected were destroyed. Many of the toys to be distributed this Christmas were taken to the Nodaway Community Center before the fire.

However, Willet says the fire has struck a severe blow to Else’s efforts in the future.

By Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah