St. Clair Fire Protection District Interim Chief Mike Kelley said he experienced some tense moments on Monday morning as he and other firefighters battled a home fire on Belew Road south of St. Clair.
When Kelley first arrived on the scene, he saw the residence engulfed in flames and most of it already collapsed. He also saw vehicles parked nearby, but no sign of individuals anywhere.
“When I saw the fire and saw the vehicles there, I was concerned someone could have been inside,” Kelley told The Missourian. “Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.”
No one was at home at the time of the fire, which first was spotted and reported at 10:19 a.m. It took authorities at least 30 minutes to locate the owner and determine the residence was vacant, however.
The address is 2440 Belew Road, which is south of the Meramec River off of Highway K. The individual who reported the fire lives on Highway K north of the river.
“When the caller phones it in, they thought it was south of the river even though they lived on the other side (of the river),” Kelley said. “The caller confirmed it was a structure fire by using binoculars.”
Upon arrival, it took fire crews about 45 minutes to extinguish the blaze. The home is a total loss.
The owner is Thomas Mayer.
At this time, the cause of the fire is undetermined, but Kelley said nothing appears suspicious.
“But we still can’t rule out anything,” he said.
A black pickup truck at the scene belongs to Mayer. But, Kelley said he found out the owner also has another dark-colored truck, which is what he was driving on Monday.
Determining the location of the fire proved to be a little difficult for Kelley and other responding firefighters because of the density of trees along winding Belew Road.
“The fact that the call came from the other side of the river made finding it a little tougher,” Kelley said about the fire. “While driving on Belew, I would see it, then not see it, then see it again. It was tough to determine exactly which driveway was the correct one.”
The narrow, winding driveway was close to a mile long as well.
A nearby barn was not damaged. A propane tank close to the home was watered down to prevent it from potentially erupting.
Crews remained on the scene until about 3 p.m. In all, six units and 15 St. Clair firefighters worked the fire. In addition, Boles and Cedar Hill provided assistance.