Despite the fact the sun was shining brightly in New London Wednesday afternoon when a downtown fire was discovered, lightning is still being listed as a potential cause of the blaze that destroyed one store front and damaged an adjoining structure.

Despite the fact the sun was shining brightly in New London Wednesday afternoon when a downtown fire was discovered, lightning is still being listed as a potential cause of the blaze that destroyed one store front and damaged an adjoining structure.

“There was a strong storm with heavy lightning in the area the night before. A lightning strike or discarded smoking materials cannot be eliminated as possible causes,” wrote Mike O’Connell, communications director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, in an e-mail response Friday to an inquiry regarding a possible cause of the blaze.

An investigator with the Missouri Fire Marshal’s office arrived in New London Wednesday evening and remained on scene until 9 p.m., according to Officer Ryan Sparks of the New London Police Department.

According to information provided by O’Connell, the South Main Street fire was discovered at approximately 2:44 p.m. A portion of the building’s roof had collapsed inward several years ago. The building was not insured.

On Wednesday, Marshall Miller, assistant fire chief in New London, advised that no utilities were connected to the building at the time of the fire.

The structure in which the fire originated is listed as a “total loss,” according to the information that was provided O’Connell.

“Due to the extensive damage, the fire is currently listed as undetermined,” advised O’Connell.

Sparks said it’s hard to estimate when local fire officials will receive a final report from the investigator.

“You just don’t know how many cases he might be working on,” he said.

The two-story building immediately north of where the fire originated, which had three apartments on the second floor and housed the New London NECAC office on the first floor, sustained heat, smoke and water damage. The building just south of the fire scene, which most recently housed the Ralls County Herald Enterprise, is vacant. Damage to the structure is believed to have been minimal, if there is any, due to the presence of a fire wall between the buildings.

 

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com