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IGNITION POINT – The Saturday, Nov. 24, Osceola fire was started by electrical problems in this vacant building owned by Brad Cullison, Osceola. The fire chief noted there were immediate issues with getting access to the fire itself. Construction crews that were working on renovating the building stated they were having electrical problems.

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MUTUAL AID – Fire departments responding included: El Dorado Springs, Lowry City, Appleton City, Iconium, Rockville, Humansville, Caplinger Mills, Bolivar, Stockton, Halfway, Dunnegan, Central Polk County and Morrisville.

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MORNING AFTER – Smoking rubble was all that remained of three Osceola buildings Sunday morning after the blaze Saturday night that kept firemen on the scene until 3:30 a.m. Sunday with several call-backs to extinguish hot spots.

Story and photos by John Farrell, St. Clair County Courier

On Saturday, Nov. 24, a large fire destroyed three historical buildings and damaged another on Second Street off the square in Osceola.

Sac Osage Fire Protection District (SOFPD) Fire Chief Mike Mullaney said crews responded to a call of a structure fire on the corner of Second and Olive streets across from Osceola City Hall shortly after 9 p.m.

Walter Birdwell, Osceola, who lives across the street from the buildings, stated he saw and smelled the smoke and reported the fire immediately.

Mullaney stated that upon arrival crews determined the fire was located in the rear corner of a vacant building owned by Brad Cullison, Osceola. The fire chief noted there were immediate issues with getting access to the fire itself.

The fire quickly spread sparking the roof of the building on fire and the outer wall of the building collapsed.

Cullison stated he was in the process of remodeling two apartments located on the bottom floor of the building and recently had a new roof constructed on the building. The fire soon spread into another vacant building located next door, also owned by Cullison.

A third building, owned by Dick Bullock, was also in the path of the fire and was destroyed in the blaze. Bullock had recently retired and closed a used bookstore business that he operated inside the building for several years. Numerous books were still located inside the building.

Nellie’s Cafe, owned by David and Kaye Perkins, was the next building in the line of the fire, but crews were able to stop the fire before it reached that building. David Perkins noted the cafe has extensive water damage, but several pieces of antique furniture were spared from damage.

SOFPD First Assistant Chief Travis Foley said fire crews from several departments responded with mutual aid to assist with fighting the fire and to shuttle water.

Fire departments responding included: Lowry City, Appleton City, Iconium, El Dorado Springs, Rockville, Humansville, Caplinger Mills, Bolivar, Stockton, Halfway, Dunnegan, Central Polk County and Morrisville.

Mullaney said that the Bolivar Fire Department responded with a 150-foot ladder truck and the Morrisville Volunteer Fire Department and Central Polk County Fire and Rescue responded with a Telesquirt, a pumper truck with a water tower that deploys an elevated master stream of water to the fire. He said the equipment was an asset in getting the fire contained.

Law enforcement officials from the Osceola Police Department, St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office and Missouri State Highway Patrol also assisted on the scene.

The fire chief stated fire crews were at the scene battling the blaze until 3:30 a.m. on Sunday. He noted SOFPD has since responded back to the scene several times to extinguish hot spots.

Mullaney said the cause of the fire was an electrical issue. He said he spoke with construction crews that were working on renovating the building who stated they were having electrical problems.

City of Osceola Employee Dustin Gibbs worked to maintain water pressure for the firefighters throughout the night. He stated there have been two water mains break since.