Flames and smoke billowed into the night sky as the former Scrapper’s Den building at 201 E. Illinois St. burned until about 5 a.m. this morning. Nobody was injured in the fire.
The Kirksville Fire Department responded to the fire about 10:40 p.m. last night when an on-duty Kirksville firefighter spotted smoke spewing from the building.
Fire Chief Tom Collins says 17 Kirksville firefighters fought the blaze and were assisted by firefighters from Adair County and La Plata, Mo. Wind significantly hindered firefighters’ efforts to control the fire, and the building is a total loss, Collins says.
“We weren’t going to change the outcome of the fire, but the wind made it a lot more touchy,” Collins says. “We probably could have knocked it down from the roof [if it hadn’t been so windy], but we weren’t comfortable putting anyone inside [the building] to fight the fire.”
Residents of an adjacent home at 205 E. Illinois and employees at the nearby Conoco gas station at 202 E. Illinois were evacuated because of concerns the windy conditions might spread the fire. Collins says the home received minor heat damage, but the Conoco gas station was undamaged.
Collins says the fire currently is being investigated by the state fire marshal, who has yet to determine a cause of the blaze. The state fire marshal and Kirksville Fire Department were on scene until 9 a.m. this morning to investigate and prevent any hot spots from reigniting.
Kirksville resident Hershal Starbuck, who lives at 205 E. Illinois, says he saw smoke from his apartment window at about 10:45 p.m. last night and called 911.
“My dog was barking like crazy, and then I heard someone shout ‘fire!'” Starbuck says. “Nobody else in the house had their phone on them, so I picked up my cell phone and called 911.”
Starbuck says he was concerned nearby gas lines that served his home might ignite. However, firefighters succeeded at containing the blaze to 201 E. Illinois.