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Fire destroys 5 buildings in Osceola, Mo.

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 11:38 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 8:35 PM CST
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OSCEOLA, Mo. (KY3) - Firefighters battled a large fire in downtown Osceola Thursday that destroyed five buildings on the square.

City leaders say the fire started around 11 a.m. inside a two-story brick building at the corner of Third and Pine. The building sits across from the post office. Investigators say the fire spread to four other buildings. Firefighters say one building sustained water damage.

Central Polk County Fire Lt. Tom Morris says a fire of this size in old buildings can pose a lot of problems.

One of those is the potential for a collapse.

”We have to be extremely cautious of that and then the big water tower is putting a lot of water on top of it which makes a collapse potential greater,” Lt. Morris says. “They’re doing a lot of exterior firefighting or surround and drown type firefighting just so that we don’t put people in a lot of danger.”

Lt. Morris says crews came in from all over the area. He says 21 different fire departments offered to help. Most of them, Lt. Morris says, are volunteers.

“This is not what they do on an everyday basis,” Lt. Morris says. “This is not my full-time job. They’re here putting their time, using their resources, their gas, to come up here and take care of the people of Osceola.”

Sac-Osage Fire Protection District Chief Travis Foley says the fire started in the building across from the post office, which sold antiques.

Chief Foley says the cause is unknown.

“I haven’t had a chance to speak to the owner of the original building it started in to see if he knows what happened or has an idea of what happened,” Chief Foley says.

Crews were able to stop the fire from spreading into a sixth building, which is the insurance building on the square.

“We will be here all night monitoring it,” Chief Foley says. “As of right now, it has no damage. There are a couple of hot spots along the wall that we were able to get with a ladder truck.”

Lt. Morris says one of the biggest issues in fighting the large fire was water.

“The city system can’t keep up with the supply of water we need,” Lt. Morris says. “We’re having to haul water in from Humansville and Lowry City.”

Although no longer in service, the Civic Theatre was a community staple for long-time Osceola resident Debbie McSperitt.

Watching it in flames was hard for her.

“It’s a memory lane for a lot of people and it’s the stability of how long things remain,” McSperitt says.

However, McSperitt says she knows the people of Osceola will come together.

“Resilience is here and it takes all of us to do that and we have that here,” McSperitt says. “We are blessed in that in St. Clair County.”

No one inside the buildings got hurt, but Chief Foley says one firefighter from Bolivar was injured when he slipped on the ice.

Firefighters will remain on the scene to keep the flames from spreading.

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