Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Fire claims one life, threatens a second

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  • Gerald Dean Dobson, 78, a retired railroad dispatcher and an avid coin collector, lost his life in a fire that devastated his single-story, ranch home early Sunday morning.
    Mr. Dobson’s wife, Sandra Sue Dobson, also at home when the fire was discovered, is undergoing treatment for serious injuries in a Springfield, Ill., hospital
    Their house, located at 30 Brook Road, on a residential street with carefully cared-for homes just west of Hannibal’s city limits, was heavily damaged on Sunday, and further damaged by a fire flareup early Monday morning.
    Hannibal Rural Fire Department Acting Chief Kevin Smith summoned the Hannibal Fire Department’s assistance on Sunday, through a mutual aid agreement, due to the time of day and the high likelihood of occupants inside the house.
    When firefighters arrived, he said, a fire attack was initiated, and the flames were quickly knocked down. Heavy smoke and high heat conditions were encountered, and ventilation was started, along with search efforts.
    Two people were located in the home. One victim was removed and Marion County ambulance personnel treated and transported her to Hannibal Regional Hospital in serious condition. She was later transported to Springfield, Ill. for treatment.
    Mr. Dobson was pronounced dead at the scene.
    Smith said his department was at the scene until 1:30 p.m. Sunday, and they believed that the fire was extinguished.
    Fire investigators were at the scene for two hours on Sunday, and Assistant Chief Smith is awaiting their reports before making a determination about the cause of the fire.
    At 6:30 a.m., Monday, a neighbor alerted 911 of a smoldering fire at the structure. Within two minutes, flames could be seen shooting into the air, an eye witness reported, prompting another call to the Hannibal Rural Fire Department, and a second call for mutual aid from the Hannibal Fire Department to protect neighboring houses.
    “Something rekindled,” Smith said. Due to the damage from the second fire, “The likelihood of us making a cause determination this morning is likely nill.”
    The house to the north of the Dobson house was not damaged, Smith said, and the house to the south, owned by Martha and Ben Pitney, received some heat damage to the siding.
    Courier-Post journalist Bev Darr contributed to this story.
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