Belle Volunteer Fire Department respond to three fires on Saturday

Roxie Murphy

BELLE — Belle Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to three structure fires between 12:45 and 4:38 p.m. Saturday.

Mutual aid from neighboring departments assisted in each incident, since many Belle and Bland firemen were out of town, according to Belle Asst. Fire Chief Nathan Abel. 

“Some of the firemen–us and Bland–were at Winter Fire School in Columbia, put on by the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute,” Abel said.

The first structure fire at the cross streets of 200 block of South Jersey Avenue and West Second Street was dispatched at 12:45 p.m. by Osage County. 

Abel arrived at the scene along with assistance from Bland Fire, Linn Fire, Dalton Price, Mike Swope and Leroy Thomas at 12:53 p.m. and discovered the electrical fire on the exterior wall of the residence.

An electrical box mounted directly below the meter base that fed into electric at the resident was shorting out, causing the fire and electrical arcing.

Abel pulled the meter, shutting off all electric to the panel that was shorting out, and advised dispatch to notify the electric company.

Belle Fire Department used a thermal imaging camera to check for fire extension beyond the electrical panel, but nothing was found. 

The property was released back to the owner at 1:10 p.m. and remaining departments cleared the scene. 

A second dispatch came through at 12:54 p.m. at the cross roads of 34691 Highway EE in Belle for a 20 by 30 foot out building that was fully involved.

“It was a wood shed with a wood stove next to the house that caught fire,” Abel reported. “They were dispatched five or 10 minutes apart from the first call.”

Bland Fire Department was the first to arrive at on scene at 1:01 p.m., and Owensville took command to call for mutual aid from Bland, Vienna, Owensville, and Vichy fire departments. Firemen Price, Tony Baretich, Swope, and Thomas were also on scene.

Belle pumper 650 and tanker 660 arrived on scene. Belle’s tanker hooked to Bland’s pumper tanker 223 for water supply to extinguish the fire.

When Abel arrived from the first fire call, command was released to him. Abel had crews remove metal tin to better access the fire. Afterwards, crews extinguished the fire, and marked the alarm under control. 

Vienna, Owensville, and Vichy fire departments were released after hot spots were extinguished. Belle and Bland departments remained behind for mop up.

At 2:43 p.m. crews cleared the scene. 

“A third call on Highway 42 came hours later,” Abel said. 

Dispatch advised of reports of a fire on Highway 42 in Maries County. Dalton Price went to the scene to make contact with the property owner and was advised that it was not a controlled burn. He requested the fire department to assist.

One small structure and two to three acres of brush were on fire. Belle fire arrived on scene and called for mutual aid from Vienna and Bland fire departments. Abel, Courtney Abel, Sara Lambeth and Swope also attended.

Pumper 650 arrived, and Abel had crews start attack lines on the small structure. Pumper 680 arrived on scene and started on the brush fire.

When the fire was under control, Abel released Vienna from the scene while Belle and Bland departments stayed to clean up hot spots.

Abel was unsure of the cause of the fire.

“I think the guy emptied some ashes and burned down the chicken coup,” Abel said. “No chickens survived.”

The scene was released to the homeowner with instructions to check on it throughout the night.