ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO - St. Charles County first responders are pleading with owners of flooded damaged homes to not burn them. Investigators believe a fire they worked this week was set to get rid of flood debris.
More than 20 firefighters and six fire trucks spent more than two hours extinguishing a fire that overtook a vacant, flood-damaged home in the first block of Grove Avenue off Highway B in St. Charles County.
When Central County Fire & Rescue crews arrived on the scene just before midnight, they found a small single-family home fully engulfed in fire. They determined that the structure had been recently damaged by flooding and was vacant. There were also no residents in the building and all utilities had been disconnected.
After a flood authority says it is not uncommon for property owners to try to dispose of damaged property by setting these homes on fire.
“This is not the proper method of removal of damaged buildings or debris, and these fires create a dangerous situation for neighbors and first responders. We would prefer that property owners work through the proper mitigation process of cleaning up after a flood,” said CCFR Assistant Chief Steve Brown.
Due to a large amount of fire and damage to the building a defensive attack was made by firefighters to extinguish the blaze. CCFR firefighters were assisted by St. Charles City Fire Department, Orchard Farm Fire Protection District, St. Charles County Ambulance District and St. Charles County Police.
Investigators believe the fire was no accident, “What makes it suspicious we eliminated all the accidental cause no utilities no gas or electric to the building and vacant and buildings like that don’t just catch on fire,” said Brown
An assistant chief says after the flood of ’93, some property owners tried to get rid of debris by setting homes on fire, “What we learn in history flood of 93 homes became abandoned or beyond repair some folks found it better to set the structure on fire to get rid of the debris or to reduce the cost to tear it down or haul it away. The problem is for the fire district we dedicated 6 fire trucks 24 personal and tied them up for two hours in the middle of the night for a building that had no value to it there is a proper way to remove these structures and this is not the way,” said Brown.
Due to the extreme damage to the structure, fire investigators were unable to make entry to determine the origin of the fire.