About 20 St. Clair Fire Protection District firefighters and more than three dozen other emergency personnel from surrounding departments had to battle strong winds and cold temperatures as well as a large brush fire south of St. Clair that destroyed a home, charred about 20 acres of land and burned in the neighborhood of 75 round hay bales on Monday.
Crews first were dispatched to 3355 Oklahoma School Road off of Highway K at about 10 a.m. When the first responders arrived at the scene, they found the residence in flames and several acres on fire.
There were no injuries.
St. Clair Fire Chief Les Crews told The Missourian on Tuesday morning that it took nearly two hours to bring the blaze under control. Personnel remained on the scene for nearly six hours to make sure the hay bales would not reignite and cause additional fires.
“The strong winds were big contributing factors in the accelerating of the fire,” Crews said.
However, firefighters were able to keep the blaze away from two adjacent homes. The one structure that burned was leveled.
“It’s a total loss,” Crews said.
The chief said the cause of the fire is unknown. He said it is not known at this time whether the fire started in the home and spread to the land or if it was the other way around.
The home’s tenant was not there when the fire started. A passerby saw smoke and called 911.
The property is owned by Charles Fuson. He also owns the two adjacent structures that were saved.
Officially, Crews said it took 1 hour and 49 minutes to bring the fire under control. About 60 firefighters from St. Clair, Union, Boles, Pacific, Sullivan, High Ridge, Cedar Hill and Eureka were on the scene.
The majority of vehicles used were brush trucks and tankers.
“Everyone did a fantastic job with this fire,” Crews said. “It was a tough one because of the winds and temperatures.”
According to the National Weather Service office in St. Louis, wind gusts in the area topped 40 mph on Monday. Temperatures at the time of the fire were in the teens.
Local fire personnel were dispatched to 3375 Oklahoma School Road just before 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning for reports of another brush fire in the area.
Crews said late Tuesday morning that he assumed an ember reignited somewhere in the area from Monday and caused the fire to reflare.
However, he said it was minimal in nature.