Feline Rescue

St. Clair Fire Protection District firefighter Tim Ware hands a rescued cat to its owner, Jeremy McNeally, outside of the home at 345 East Springfield Road that caught fire on Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters were told that the feline was inside the residence, and after a search Ware located it inside while the attic fire still was burning.

Quick work by St. Clair Fire Protection District personnel kept a fire contained to the attic of a home in the city limits early Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters responded at about 1:09 p.m. to 345 East Springfield Road near St. Clair Elementary School. When they arrived, smoke was coming out of the two-story residence.

Upon investigation, firefighters discovered a fire burning in the attic. Its cause is undetermined.

“It was a pretty good little fire burning up there,” said new St. Clair Fire Chief Les Crews, who started with the department on Monday. “But because of the quick discovery and quick knockdown, we were able to contain it there.”

The occupants of the home, Jeremy McNeally and his wife and son, were not home when the fire started. However, when the father and son arrived soon thereafter, they smelled and saw smoke and called 911.

Crews said McNeally first tried to make the call from the house phone but it wasn’t working, so he and his son left the residence and called 911 from outside. His wife arrived a short time later.

There were no injuries. A dog and cat also escaped unscathed. The cat had to be found and rescued from inside the home by firefighter Tim Ware, who quickly handed it over to McNeally when he came out the front door.

Access was gained through the front door, and firefighters worked the smoke and fire from there as well as from attic vents on the sides of the home.

There were never any signs of flames from the exterior.

Firefighters remained on the scene for an hour or more after the fire was extinguished. East Springfield Road was closed near the scene for a while on Wednesday afternoon.

Crews said fire damage was limited to the attic, but there was smoke and water damage elsewhere in the home, especially on the second floor. He said the fire originated in the attic.

The home, which was deemed unlivable, is owned by Betty Banks.

Tuesday Fires

The East Springfield Road fire was the third in two days for St. Clair crews as they battled a pair of rural structure house fires on Tuesday that were reported about 40 minutes apart.

Firefighters first responded to 3536 Aitch Road at 10:47 a.m. on Tuesday and then were called to 5422 Highway N at 11:27 a.m.

There were no injuries at either location.

The Highway N fire in the Lonedell area ended up being more significant as a second alarm was called shortly after noon for additional manpower and water.

The log cabin home is located in the vicinity of Wardfield Road and Forest Haven Drive.

“It was a tough fire,” Crews told The Missourian. “There ended up being a lot of damage.”

The fire chief said the cabin remains intact but there was significant damage inside. He said it appears the fire started in a fireplace inside the home, but the official cause has not been determined.

“It burned pretty hot for a while,” he said. “With a vaulted ceiling, the fire got into the upper areas of the home and spread.”

Crews said the blaze was under control in about 60 to 90 minutes. About 30 firefighters and 13 trucks were on the scene.

Owners Dennis and Tina Chandler were not home when the fire started. A passerby called 911 after seeing smoke coming from the residence.

Crews said the home was located about 1,000 feet off of Highway N. The chief said tanker trucks were shuttled up and down the driveway to provide water.

“That’s one of the reasons why we needed the second alarm,” he said.

Firefighters were on the scene for several hours.

“The operation there went well,” Crews said.

The home is unlivable, and Crews said he expects it to be a total loss.

The fire on Aitch Road near the intersection with Highway TT east of St. Clair originated in the laundry room, Crews said. He said personnel were still at that location when the Highway N blaze was reported.

Owners Bill and Cindy Brown were home at the time the fire started on Aitch Road.

Crews said fire damage was limited to the laundry room, but there was some smoke and water damage throughout the residence.

Firefighters had the fire under control within minutes.

All the fires appear to be accidental.