The cause of an early morning house fire Thursday has been listed as undetermined, although fire officials have some concerns about the incident.
The Sedalia Fire Department received a call at 6:09 a.m. of a vacant residence on fire in the 900 block of West Broadway Boulevard. Firefighters were there for about six hours, clearing the scene just after noon, said SFD Deputy Chief Greg Harrell.
“We were hindered with trees in the way there, but that happens in residential areas, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. We were able to work around that,” Harrell said. “It was just a long, hard, stubborn fire. It was in the walls and the floors between the upper and lower floors. It was stubborn. Sometimes they go out easy and sometimes they put up a fight and this was one we had to struggle with all morning long.”
Because of heavy flames and smoke — Harrell said the smoke extended six to eight blocks down Broadway — officials are unable to determine the point of origin of the fire in the home, which was considered a total loss.
“The fire was too far advanced when we got the alarm,” Harrell said. “When the first truck and Sedalia Police Department got on scene, they reported heavy fire, smoke and fire on an exterior wall on one side and throughout most of the interior of the structure. The smoke was six, seven, eight blocks long. To determine the point of origin is pretty tough to do at this point.”
According to the SFD report, initial observation indicated fire on the east door, both inside and outside. A stairway inside the structure was on fire and the first landing had burned away, meaning no access to the second floor for firefighters.
The report states KCP&L disconnected electricity from the alleyway, but utilities were already off at the residence. No gas meter was found at the scene by SFD or Empire Gas.
Harrell said they will not be calling the Missouri State Fire Marshal to assist with investigating the fire. The official report lists the cause as undetermined for the time being.
“The power was off, there were no utilities to the house. That leads us to have some concerns about things,” Harrell said. “At this point we’re leaving it open so if we need to we can coordinate an investigation, maybe work with Sedalia Police Department.”
The multi-tenant residence is listed as owned by Quentin Butts, a Sedalia landlord. The residence has received many violations during the last decade, with the most recent notice of violation listed as September 2014. Community Development Director John Simmons said once the residence became vacant, it became less of a problem.
“We would work with (Butts) on the violations and he would fix them, but then we would be back at square one with more problems,” Simmons said.
Complaints and violations included rubbish and tires piled at the rear of the property, poison ivy growing on the property and garage, boards on the garage needed to be replaced, vehicles were parked across the sidewalk in front of the structure, chipping/peeling paint, gutters hanging in several locations and broken windows. A complaint was received in June 2010 regarding the creation of a gravel driveway, but that was found to not be in violation of city ordinance.
Simmons added that many of the problems were created by tenants and Butts was not aware of the problems until the city notified him.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.