NEAR BRANSON, Mo. -- The owners of a funeral home near Branson intend to re-build after fire destroyed their business that's been in the community for decades.
The fire broke out at about 9:40 p.m. Thursday night at Snapp-Bearden Funeral Home on Mount Branson along East Highway 76.
The owners of the business have been caring for families during times of loss for generations. Now, they say, people are coming to help them as they experience loss of their own.
Darrel Bearden is one of the owners of Snapp-Bearden Funeral Home and says he received the call about the fire from someone who was passing by.
"See how quick you can get here, see what you can do, what you can get out of the building, just see how disastrous it's going to be," Bearden said.
Since at least the 1980's, Bearden and his family have cared for others as they experience loss.
"I think our family has been called to do this as our mission in life," Bearden said.
Community members say the business has been an important part of the Branson area.
"They've helped a lot of people through a lot of rough times in their lives," Western Taney County Fire Department Assistant Chief James Lannan said.
"To be in a business for so long and for it to just go up in flames like that, it's awful," Maketha Martin said.
Experiencing a loss of their own now, Bearden says he's grateful they weren't preparing for a service. No one's loved one's were lost in the fire.
"We had been quite busy. Right now, we were in a lull. So, the good Lord was watching out for several of us," Bearden said.
He says since the fire, there's been no shortage of support.
"We've had several churches call and volunteer their chapels for funeral services. Several funeral homes have called, offering anything they can do," Bearden said.
Meanwhile, fire crews are investigating the cause, but say it started on the west side of the building, where several cars were parked.
"Our first engine arrived on scene and reported heavy fire showing from underneath the carport," Lannan said.
Bearden says he does plan to get back in business and they're grateful for the love they've been shown in this tough time.
"We can all join together in a time like this," Bearden said.
Firefighters were able to help them save important documents from the fire.
"We just try to recover as much as we can. We had one of the owners there at the building telling us what was important. Crews were going inside and bringing out filing cabinet after filing cabinet. In a case like this, we are talking about business records from past clients, where loved ones may be located in the cemetery, the business practices that they had before, insurance documents, all of those things that would be vital for this business to recover," Lannan said.
Bearden says they'll begin working with the insurance company to rebuild soon.
"We had a lot of firemen here and appreciate all their help, a lot of volunteers and people stopping to help. We appreciate everyone that was involved last night. We will rebuild and go again," Bearden said.
The state fire marshal's office is looking into exactly how and why this fire started. If you have any information that could help with that, give them a call.