As he watched firefighters go in and out of the still smoldering building that had been home to his auto repair business south of Hannibal, Dennis Reeves said in a quiet voice, “It’s just a misfortune.”
What kept the “misfortune” from being a tragedy was the fact that no one was injured in the late-morning blaze that started when fuel dripped on a treble light that Reeves was using while inspecting a vehicle.
“I was working on a minivan and the gas dripped and hit the light,” said Reeves. “I didn’t know the tank leaked. I just got the van this morning.”
Reportedly, Reeves was able to use a truck and chain to pull the minivan out of the two-bay garage, but not before the flames had a chance to spread.
“At that point the fire took off,” said Kevin Smith, assistant fire chief with the Hannibal Rural Fire Protection District. “The fire had already extended into the structure at that point - the walls and tools he had in that area.”
Because of the garage’s proximity to HEETCO’s propane facility, a mutual aid request was made to the city of Hannibal’s Fire Department and the New London Fire Department.
“Because of the population density, we were glad to have Hannibal city and New London fire come out and give us a hand, and make sure everybody was safe,” said Smith. “Hannibal did a good knock on the fire and put it down for us pretty quick. We’ve been working with New London to fully extinguish the situation.”
Significant damage was done to the building, which Smith reported is owned by Glenn Ledbetter. Ironically, in mid-October 2011 fire heavily damaged an old house and adjacent shed Ledbetter owned on Lindell Avenue in southern Hannibal.
Reeves, who has been at the location for five years, said he’ll have to rebuild the garage.
“The garage is totaled,” he said. “I’ve got to redo the wiring, walls, insulation, doors, plus all my tools that are burnt up.”
Even as firefighters were still looking for unseen hot spots, Reeves was starting to salvage what he could from the structure. He was still unsure how much he’d be able to save.
“I’ve got a few that didn’t get melted all the way. I just wanted to get them out and save on the water damage,” he said.
Getting his business back on its feet won’t be easy for Reeves.
“I know there’s no insurance and it’s a total loss,” he said.
Page 2 of 2 - Much of the time firefighters were battling the blaze, a steady rain was falling. While the rain didn’t hamper firefighting efforts, Smith admitted getting everyone safely to a fire scene when it’s raining is always a concern.
“Anytime we’re running with lights and sirens it’s always a serious situation, and when the rain starts and it becomes slick, it just kind of ramps up the safety factor,” he said.