Bill Madore, Hannibal fire chief, recognizes the challenges a fire presents every time his department’s trucks roll, but understandably a fire in some structures would present a bigger test than others.
Bill Madore, Hannibal fire chief, recognizes the challenges a fire presents every time his department’s trucks roll, but understandably a fire in some structures would present a bigger test than others. On Wednesday afternoon Hannibal firefighters responded to one of the more challenging sites - the former St. Elizabeth Hospital at 109 Virginia.
“This one here definitely makes your blood pressure go up 20 points on the initial call,” said Madore.
Firefighters responded after an automatic alarm sounded and smoke was seen coming from a section of the complex that once housed the hospital’s laundry.
“A bystander saw the smoke and called us and we responded accordingly,” said Madore, adding that the initial report was that light gray smoke was seen coming from the building’s rooftop.
The source of the smoke was a flue pipe from a wood stove inside the building.
“There’s no hazard here per se, but we are going to follow up with the occupant and talk to them about their wood stove as far as the material being burned,” said Madore, explaining that wire was being burned in order to get at the copper contained inside the insulation. “That’s not a legal use of material in a wood stove in an application such as this.”
It was not immediately known if the wire had been salvaged from inside the former hospital, or if it had come from another site.
“Fortunately there were no injuries and no damage,” said Madore.
The former health-care center, which has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, was purchased in late August of 2011 by Stephen G. Owsley.
In November of 2011 it was learned that Owsley was seeking low income housing tax credits from the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) for renovations at the complex. During Wednesday’s meeting of the Northeast Missouri Economic Development Council, George Walley, the organization’s executive director, reported that on Oct. 23 the project was one of three Hannibal projects that he spoke in behalf of at the MHDC’s public hearing in Columbia.
It was previously reported that Owsley planned to covert a section of the old hospital into 56 senior housing units. The units were to be income restricted to 60 percent of median income levels for the area.
St. Elizabeth Hospital opened to patients in 1915. It was the second hospital constructed in Hannibal and the city’s first private hospital.
After the hospital’s initial construction, additions were wrapped up in 1922, 1928, 1940, 1956 and 1973.