As an investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s office probed its smoldering ruins, looking for the cause of a fire that consumed most of an empty residence in Saverton Friday morning, a neighbor offered her theory.
“I think it was lightning,” said the woman, who spoke on the condition she not be identified. “It was running all through the sky last night.”
The woman placed a call to Ralls County 911 after being awakened early Friday morning by her dog and seeing the flames.
According to the woman, Saverton is prone to lightning strikes. She believes that lightning was the source of a fire approximately a month ago that damaged a home a few houses south of Friday’s blaze.
“All I can say is if you’re going to have a house down here you’d better keep your insurance paid up,” she said.
The residence that burned Friday, 12680 Saverton Dr., was vacant.
“No one has been living in the home for at least five or six months,” said Kevin Smith, assistant chief of the Hannibal Rural Fire Protection District.
“We have a lot of those (vacant houses) as people get sick or die,” said the woman. “I feel sorry for the people (property owners). It just makes me sad.”
The Fire Marshal’s office was called in because of the circumstances surrounding the fire.
“It’s my understanding there were no utilities to it (house), so we’re a little suspicious in that regard,” said Smith. “We’re going to go ahead and follow it just to see if something else happened. We’re just going to try and rule everything out.”
Hannibal Rural firefighters were notified about the fire shortly before 6 a.m., according to Smith.
“A neighbor had reported seeing flames on one end of the house. The south end of the house was well involved upon our arrival. The fire had extended through the roof itself from one end of the house to the other,” he said. “We were able to make a stop, but everything was a defensive operation as we were unable to make access to the home itself.”
A mutual aid call was made to the New London Fire Department, which initially was going to supply both a pumper truck and a tanker.
“Unfortunately their tanker suffered an accident and they had to divert some of their men, so we ended up with five of our guys and two from New London on the initial attack,” said Smith, adding that the Hannibal Fire Department assisted at the scene by providing a tanker shuttle.
Page 2 of 2 - The driver of the New London tanker involved in the accident suffered minor injuries. He was identified by the Missouri State Highway Patrol as Michael Woodside of New London. As for the tanker, damage was described as “extensive” in the accident report.
No firefighters battling the blaze were injured.
The Fire Marshal’s office did not yet have a preliminary report on the fire as of Friday afternoon.