January 16, 2003

Disaster On City Square Averted As Fire Contained To Law Office

Smoke billowed from the windows of the apartment above the law office of Susan Henry as a fire broke out in the building on the southwest corner of the Memphis Square sending the fire department into action.

Quick response times by emergency service personnel may have averted a major disaster in Memphis January 11 when a fire just off the southwest corner of the Memphis square was doused before it could spread across the town's business district.

The Scotland County Fire Department responded to a report of a fire at the Susan Henry law office located on Monroe Street between Memphis City Hall and Memphis Lumber. The call came in at 9:14 a.m.

Upon arrival at the scene the fire department found the upper level of the two-story building, totally engulfed in flames, which were shooting out the four second-story windows of the building.

The department quickly attacked the fire from the exterior of the building. Firemen also donned airpacks and went into the building via the first floor stairway. Another hose team entered the upper level through a window on the west wall.

Windy conditions and worsening smoke sent city workers and volunteers into City Hall to evacuate equipment from the building, which was beginning to take on smoke.

The fire was quickly brought under control. The upper level of the building, which served as Henry's residence, sustained extensive fire and smoke damage. The first floor sustained water and smoke damage.

City hall sustained smoke damage forcing officials to move the municipal offices into temporary residency further down the west side of the square at the Antique Fair Building.

The Missouri State Fire Marshall's office was on the scene later that morning to investigate the cause of the fire. The blaze reportedly was started by a cigarette on a couch located in the south part of the apartment.

The fire department was on the scene for approximately three hours. The department was assisted by the Memphis Police Department, Scotland County Sheriff's Department, the Scotland County Ambulance Service and city utility workers.

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