Firefighters investigate fire at Mount Vernon dental office

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MOUNT VERNON, Mo. -- Firefighters are investigating a fire overnight that destroyed a large dental clinic in Mount Vernon.

Fire Crews responded around 10 p.m. Tuesday. The building is a total loss. So several people are temporarily out of work here and lots of patients without a dental clinic. Five fire departments helped battle the flames throughout the night. A Stotts City firefighter was injured when he fell on the ice, caused by the water from the fire hoses. That firefighter broke his ankle in several places.

The Mount Vernon fire chief says the fire was already pretty advanced when they arrived and not long after, the roof collapsed. He believes the fire started somewhere near the center of the building, but that will likely be up to the state fire marshal office investigator to determine. They are looking at the fire as possibly suspicious.

"The only reason we're calling it suspicious is because we don't have a cause at this point in time, so we want to treat it as suspicious, just in case it does turn out to be something more serious," said Mount Vernon Fire Chief Brad Delay. "So we don't want to just walk over something and not treat it as a suspicious fire, in case it does turn out to be."

The owner Dr. Thomas Alms faces three counts of Medicaid fraud. Attorney General Josh Hawley filed the charges, saying that Alms billed Medicaid patients for services he did not provide.