3 Alarm Structure Fire at Econo Lodge Motel in Cuba, Missouri

I was cleaning several crystals Thursday evening that I collected in Arkansas earlier this week, when I heard the tones drop for Bourbon and Cuba Fire Departments to respond to a Commercial Structure Fire at 246 Hwy P…not sure where that was located, I looked it up on google earth maps and saw that it was the Econo Lodge Motel on the North Service Road right below Pizza Hut in Cuba. I decided to wait and listen for the size-up once firefighters arrived on scene, figuring it wouldn`t take Cuba long to arrive, the dispatcher had advised smoke from the ceiling. Cuba`s first truck arrived a few minutes later and immediately called for a 2nd Alarm, which would bring Sullivan`s Ladder Truck 852 and several other departments. Onyx and I quickly got on the road with my cameras and flashgun, as I approached the Leasburg Overpass and topped the hill, I saw heavy smoke in the distance…when I topped the hill at the Hwy UU Overpass, I saw a large orange glow and heavy smoke. I had let Jim Bartle know I was on the way up there and he was glad to hear that, as he was locked down in a meeting and unable to go. I called him when I passed the UU Overpass and as I topped the little hill just east of the Cuba Overpass, I let him know that the entire east wing and office area was fully involved, heavy fire through the roof of the east wing. I parked at the Commuter Lot and secured Onyx, took both cameras and put on my traffic vest and walked down toward the motel…I could see Cuba`s Ladder Truck parked on the west side of the east wing and the ladder was up and they were spraying water down into the flames from above…I stopped and shot a brief video…Sullivan`s Ladder Truck 852 passed by me as I was shooting… and then I walked on down to the scene. I noticed 852 was now positioned on the east side of the east wing and the ladder was being raised.ย 

I stopped to shoot another video at the entrance ramp up into the motel and stopped briefly to talk to a Highway Patrol Trooper on scene assisting with traffic…he asked how I was doing and we talked a few minutes about the weather, luckily it was only 40 degrees that evening and how ten degrees less could have been a disaster for the firefighters with everything freezing up and making everything more hazardous. I then walked east along the edge of the Service Road and took a few initial photos of the heavy fire thru the roof of the east wing and office area….

I stayed in this spot for a few minutes before moving over to an area closer to 852 and noticed that very little water was flowing on this side, no water from the Ladder Pipe, yet Cuba`s Ladder Pipe was flowing the whole time…I found out later that a problem developed with a Cuba pumper that was supplying water thru large diameter supply lines from the hydrant in the Pizza Hut Parking Lot…

….the pump stopped flowing water to the supply lines and Sullivan Pumper 814 was tasked with taking over water supply once they arrived on scene a few minutes later…

The next couple of photos I had to shoot a slower shutter speed to get the depth of field I wanted, so between the firefighters moving in action and the flames moving naturally, the photos look out of focus…I personally like that effect as it shows action…

…..I was shooting another video when I heard 814 approaching…the Q siren on the front bumper was screaming at full tilt and I would know that siren anywhere…

…..as soon as they arrived, Command apparently made the plan to have firefighters manning hoselines and going from unit to unit along the east side of the wing and knocking down the fire…then the Ladder Truck Pipes would attack from above and add the knockout punch to the fires below….

I decided to walk back around and check out the increasing glow over the office area, it appeared to be on fire once again….

…and for a few minutes, I was thinking Cuba had their hands full trying to knock this huge amount of fire down with just their Ladder Pipe, but then Sullivan`s Ladder Pipe became operational and assisted in knocking it back down once and for all….

I have no idea what was in that office area, but it sure did not want to go out, kept coming back again and again….

…and then I returned to the east side again….

I took a few photos with my new camera, which is a backup for me….

the next couple of photos show something I rarely get to see anymore…Captain Dave Konys on the nozzle…. bet he thinks the same thing…good to see him get a turn on it and get to spray some water for once…

I left about 9:45 pm, about the time they had the fire under control and were likely starting to overhaul and mop up. I heard Pumper 814 back in quarters around 11:30 pm, not sure when 852 came home, there was a lot of hoselines to roll up on scene, including large diameter supply lines. Looked like a great job by all on scene, hope they got a good nights rest afterward.ย 


Trailer of Round Hay Bales on Fire Hwy 185 South

March 3rd sure was a pretty day outside, I was packing clothing and rockhunting tools, getting ready to leave early the next morning for southern Arkansas, to join up with 15 of my rockhound friends who were traveling in from all over the country…we were going back to the Blue Phantom Mine south of Mt Ida. We had been there in November and liked it so well, we decided to make it a two day dig there this time around. Unfortunately several of my other rockhound friends who live up in the northern Midwest and Northeastern US states, were unable to make it due to weather and other obligations. While I was packing, I listened to several fire departments responding to brush fires all over the place…Sullivan Firefighters were out on several calls when their tones dropped for what sounded like a trailer on fire…usually that indicates a mobile home trailer, but in this case, thankfully, it was a trailer loaded with large round hay bales on fire..on Hwy 185 next to the old Kelter Conservation Tower site. I drove down and parked in the tower driveway out of the way, and started walking up to the fire scene…several folks in vehicles stopped asked me what was on fire, and I let them know that at least seven bales were reported to be on fire and let them know they were going to be stopped for quite a while. Many had no clue how long it can take when dealing with round hay bales on fire, and I let several of them know there was an alternate route around the fire if they wanted to go back to the turn to Sleepy Hollow Road and take Hamilton Hollow Road around the fire. When I walked up to the trailer, that was no longer connected to the truck pulling it, blocking the north bound lane of 185, the pumper was blocking the southbound lane and Austin Mesey was doing his best to pull the bale closest to him apart with the hook so that Nick White could put more fire out with the hoseline……

…Nick then went back to the truck to check the water level in the tank, they were working with 1500 gallons on the pumper until a tanker arrived with more water…that`s another thing about putting out large round bales of hay, you either let them burn or you use a lot of water to extinguish the fire in the hay or straw…whichever method you choose, you are going to be there quite a while dealing with it. Chief Eric let me know that he had two tankers on the way from town, they had been out north of town on a brush fire call and had just been released from that call, and two brush units would be enroute to this call as well. I let him know that as I was driving out there, I noticed a huge cloud of white smoke further south of their location and let him know about it…later we found out it was actually down at the foot of the hill of Baker School Hill, in Potosi`s district, a controlled burn. Zach Martel took over the nozzle from Nick, as he packed up and started helping Austin hook the bales and pull them apart so water could be applied….

Chief Eric might have been working with limited manpower, but he had a good young crew here that worked well together as a team, and teamwork can make you or break you really fast….

Davey Sumpter showed up soon after with the first tanker and parked on a dirt drive right behind the pumper, and then a brush truck showed up as well…as I was walking back to my truck, about a dozen motorcycles approached and even moved over into the northbound lanes and passed everyone that were stopped and sitting in the southbound lanes waiting for the incident to clear up…I alerted Chief Eric that it appeared they wanted to come thru, and he immediately had the brush truck pull up and completely block the road access to them…they realized pretty quickly that they were not going to be able to go through there and turned around soon after and left the way they came. I let a few more drivers know they were going to be there awhile or they could take the alternate route around…many of them turned around and headed to the alternate route. When I passed through Meramac State Park, I noticed the motorcycle riders grouped up on the road to Cane`s Bottom…I wondered if they knew that was a dead end for them as well…but as Kellie Polesky used to say at work, not my circus and not my monkeys. ๐Ÿ™‚


Semi Wraps Around Column Under James K. Schatz Bridge Feb 2018

I was looking out the window watching the sleet and freezing drizzle the evening of February 10th, watching icycles forming on theย  branches and elevated surfaces above my yard, wondering how slick the roads were. I received my answer soon enough, the tones dropping for a serious MVA… motor vehicle accident…at the 224.8 mile marker of eastbound I-44. I grabbed my camera and flash, secured Onyx in the truck and creeped down Elmont Road and over the James K. Schatz Bridge…no one was behind me, so I stopped on top of the bridge and looked west…for as far as I could see to the west, there were tractor trailers sitting sideways across both east and westbound lanes of I-44, one was in the westbound driving lane facing east, one sitting next to it facing westbound, beyond those two trucks were even more that were completely crossways and blocking both lanes on both sides of the median…I didn`t think I had enough light to shoot photos from there, or I would have done so. I drove on over to the Alice Street Cutoff going west and attempted to park on the driveway entrance to nowhere on the right before the stop sign at the North Service Road…I sat there a minute and then my truck started sliding sideways back down into Alice Street so I drove on over to Franklin Street and circled back to Hwy 185 and back to the bridge, then turned left on Alice Street and drove over to the North Service Road and then up to Mobil, parking by the car wash, next to several spectators. I locked Onyx inside, with the heater on low and made my way toward the bridge, observing Sullivan Firefighters trying to rescue the driver of a semi that was wrapped around one of the bottom concrete columns of the bridge, the semi on its side and the trailer extending back thru the median and into eastbound lanes…..

…the freezing drizzle was coming down a lot heavier than it first appeared, the flash illuminating it quite well, so I moved under the bridge soon after shooting that one and then just had to clean the lens off to continue shooting. Dave Konys climbed up on the cab to help supervise the extrication of the driver, and she was removed within about twenty minutes and transported to MoBap Sullivan by medics. Once she was removed, I backed up to shoot some scene photos of it….

During the investigation of the multiple vehicle accident, it was determined that she was eastbound on I-44 when another semi crossed over the median and she swerved to miss it, having only a split second to decide due to the weather, and her semi rolled to its side and struck the column of the bridge, trapping her inside the cab. Modot was on scene during the rescue and in touch with bridge inspectors soon after. As I was leaving the scene, I saw three very large semi wreckers approaching the scene from the West Overpass…while it would have been interesting to see how they removed it from the bridge, it was cold out and it was def going to take them some time to do so, plus there were many other semi`s blocking both lanes of I-44…and it was obviously going to take law enforcement awhile to re-open both lanes of I-44. I overheard radio traffic while there, Bourbon FD was assisting law enforcement at the Bourbon Overpass, re-routing eastbound traffic to the South Service Road. It would be a long night for all first responders and support staff on scene. Good job by all involved !!


Residential Structure Fire 8687 Indian Bend Road

Early afternoon of February 2nd, I heard the tones drop for a residential structure fire at 8687 Indian Bend Road, so I quickly looked it up on google earth maps and saw it was a little ways up the road from Shawnee Ford Road, then headed that way after securing Onyx in the truck. It was Winter Fire School weekend and Sullivan FD usually send about ten firefighters to it as do many other surrounding departments, so it was likely that the fire crews might be stretched a little thin today. I was out in front of the fire crews with the help of the Elmont Bridge and when I reached the Boone Creek Valley, I started seeing a heavy column of black thick smoke ahead. Driving down Shawnee Ford Road from Hwy AE, the smoke kept increasing and when I approached the residence on Indian Bend Road, I could see there was a field on fire, flames approaching a long barn, likely stuffed full of hay bales, and several neighbors were out in the field fighting back the flames, many using their jackets and knapsacks to beat down the flames. I parked across the road out of the way and shot the first photo from the road….

…this one was different looking…the entire roof of the house appeared completely intact and it looked like there was something on fire behind the residence, but the residence looked fine from the road…there were a couple of neighbors in front of the house and the front door was standing wide open…I walked on around to the rear of the house and discovered a pick up truck on fire behind the house about forty feet behind it at the fence line…fire had spread from the truck to the back of the house, entering the house thru the basement right behind and below the garage, and shotgun shells could be heard going off inside the basement…

Sullivan firefighters arrived shortly after in new pumper 854 with Kory Snelson as the acting Captain and Command…two young firefighters Trevor Woods and Beau Kick, initially packed up, took the hoseline, and approached the basement from the west side…ammunition kept popping off and they prudently stayed where they were and used the wall as a barrier…one never knows whether those shells are inside a barrel or tube or tub…the first two options would be hazardous to the health of firefighters as they would provide direction like a gun barrel to the shells, yet in a tub or box of shells, they simply explode without direction…still hazardous tho…these two firefighters showed great restraint and caution for themselves and others. Instead they directed their hose stream through a small window into the basement interior and cooled things down fast…hence the white smoke below….

I took this time to walk back around the front of the house to get to the other side and to my surprise, discovered a mobile home trailer fully involved and on the ground behind the residence on the far side….

…so in addition to the house on fire and the field on fire next to the house, approaching a large barn full of hay bales, there was also a Dodge pickup on fire and a mobile home had completely burned to the ground as well….adding up to two structure fires, one vehicle fire, and one brush fire…great on the job training for the young firefighters on the trucks today….and then I turned around to check out the field fire, the neighbors were still fighting it, doing what they could, but as dry as the grass was, they had their work cut out for them…talk about dedication….

…the owner`s son arrived about that time and went to get his tractor, and drove it down to the field to assist in putting out the fire until brush trucks could arrive….

…and the neighbors rallied behind him with more knapsacks and sheets of tin….

…and shortly after, Sullivan`s brush truck arrived….

…I walked over to the fenceline and saw the fire had spread down into the woods, so I put my camera under my coat and went down to the brush truck to get a rake, then hoofed it back to the woods fire and began raking…Bourbon arrived with a brush truck then and assisted me in extinguishing the woods fire. Once that part was under control, I walked back up and found Ray Enloe and Corey Rice`s son spraying down what was left of the mobile home….

…and then the Rosenweig boy came over and helped with the tractor, lifting the roof up and off the trailer so firefighters could more easily extinguish the fire burning underneath it….

Sullivan was assisted by Bourbon and St Clair Fire Departments, St Clair brought their Super Tanker which carries ten thousand gallons of water. Despite being a bit shorthanded, firefighters did a great job with everything they had to contend with that day !!


Retired from Dispatching Work Mid January 2018

I forgot to say, that I retired from East Central Dispatch on January 15th, officially…my last night was actually a few nights before that and they had a retirement party for me on Friday the 12th, with several firefighters attending from a few of the cities and a few police officer friends as well as a couple of my co-workers. A couple of the Chiefs attended as well, Terry Kurten from Brentwood FD and Kevin Halloran from Rock Hill FD…his on duty crew attended and brought me a couple of hats and shirts as a retirement gift…they were much appreciated. Clayton FD`s crew with Batt Chief Diane Straatmann, as well as crews from Richmond Heights also attended on the Fire Service side, while Lt Al Thuett from Clayton PD and a few officers with Richmond Hts PD wandered in and out as they were on duty. Kurt, my Operations Manager, who I used to relieve on fire dispatch over the years before he was promoted from the floor, presented me with a nice plaque for my 15.5 years of service, after saying several nice things about me. He and I go way back in the fire service as good firefighter friends and he is truly a Guiding Force and Light for East Central Dispatch and the Dispatchers there. There was also two cakes, one I was able to take home with me, a red velvet cake, and punch as well.ย 

Two other dispatch supervisors attended, Melissa with the other day crew, and Charlie Robinson with the other night crew…Charlie was the guy that finished out my training when I started working there, he is a super good guy and a very good dispatcher as well, he has been there nearly 30 years ! My supervisor Patty Kinealy walked up to the party with me, she has been my supervisor for several years and even more so, a very good friend as well…she is quite a peach…she gave me a pet name of Dollface several years ago and I named her Doll…cause she really is one…inside and out !!ย 

For the past several years, I mainly dispatched on the fire side and answered phones, yet had no problem filing in on the police side of the radios when needed….I will def miss dispatching the firefighters to calls and I truly appreciate Chief Halloran and the crews who I dispatched later that night for the call outs and kudos on the radio as they were returning in service. I did my best to stay vigilant and keep my crews as safe as possible, and I have to say, I had a good crew of dispatchers helping me out on the big calls and when we had several calls piled up…we worked well as a team on our shift. I plan to visit when possible and hope for the best for everyone down there as well…stay safe and thanks for all you do !!

…Firefighters and co-worker Roy on far left above…Clayton firefighters in photo above this one…photo below is Lt Al Thuett with Clayton PD and Batt Chief Diane Straatmann with Clayton FD….

Me with the crew…Al, Patty, Roy, Diane, and Me below…..

and me with a piece of Red Velvet Cake….yes it was delicious. ๐Ÿ™‚

…and a few weeks later, Patty and Kellie came out with Todd Schmidt, one of our favorite Webster Groves Sgts and Kellie`s husband Jeramy, to take me out to retirement lunch at Missouri Hick BBQ in Cuba…my Mom came with me and we met them there for lunch…had a great time, thanks for lunch yall !!


Nye Farm Barn Fire at Bourbon & Multiple Grass Fires on I-44 in Sullivan

I kept seeing a large column of smoke north west of Sullivan, yet could not find out anything about it, finally dismissing it as a possible controlled burn by the state. A little while later, Bourbon and Sullivan Fire Departments were toned out for a barn fire north of Bourbon at the end of Mound Road near Cartwright Road. I arrived at the same time as Bourbon and followed them in, parking off the road, then walking down the lane to the farm…the barn by that time was pretty much consumed by the fire and on the ground, spreading out to other areas of the forest around it and consuming a camper and stacks of tires nearby as well…

…firefighters masked up and then spread out to extinguish hot spots everywhere….

…I turned around and spotted Brent Byrd dumping water from the tanker into the drop tank, he is one of Bourbon`s senior firefighters and responds on many calls, often driving and operating the pumpers or the tankers, and an all around great guy, following in his Dad`s footsteps as a firefighter….

…like his Dad, he leads by example and he sets a great example for the young firefighters with his work ethic, as does Chief Daniel Whatley…a young Chief who sets a great example by pitching in and working right alongside his young firefighters at just about every scene I have photographed….

…Sullivan`s firefighters arrived soon after and pitched in to help mop up the scene, while Jimmy Smythe brought another load of water with one of their tankers….

…I headed back to Sullivan to send the photos to Jim Bartle for the paper`s website, and no sooner pulled up on the exit ramp at the west overpass, when I spotted several grass fires between the overpasses…it looked like the entire highway was on fire…I drove down to the first fire near the intersection of the South Service Road and Fisher Drive and then on down past a larger fire in front of Zephyr….where Jim was assisting firefighters in raking out the flames….

…and then I drove to the other side of the interstate to photograph the other fires…

…a smaller fire in front of Subway and a larger fire in front of Applebees required a Franklin County Deputy to move westbound traffic over…those flames often fanned by the gusty winds, compelled the Deputy to back up a few times before fire crews were able to get to that fire….shorthanded due to assisting Bourbon with the Barn Fire….

..making for a long afternoon and evening for firefighters on the 25th of January…





Residential Structure Fire on Bechter Road North of Bourbon

Shortly after returning from Crestwood with a new camera that I purchased as a backup to my D90, Bourbon was toned out for a residential structure fire on Bechter Road, not far east of Old Argo Road. I looked up the address and took the back way to it, arriving seconds behind Bourbon`s lead pumper and tanker…I decided to park down by the pasture gate so I would not be in the way of any trucks. A friend of the family was pulled over there as well and let me know it was the Hofstetter residence and he was on his way home now…the house sitting back well off the road with a few outbuildings nearby…was well involved with heavy fire blowing out the front and back windows of the home….

Chief Daniel Whatley arrived and took Command of the scene…firefighters had their hands full from their arrival, battling extremely cold temps and a stiff wind blowing in from the south and straight through the house….

…as hoseline crews attacked the fire from outside the front windows, other firefighters scrambled to set up a drop tank for the tanker shuttle….

…you could definitely tell when the wind gusted up, as the flames coming out the front windows doubled and tripled in size….

It was decided that the tankers would enter and exit the pasture gate where I was located, leaving the driveway open….I figured this out soon after when Bourbon`s tanker driver dumped his load in the drop tank and then drove across the field in my direction, returning to the Bourbon station to get another load of water…

…as he departed the scene, Bourbon`s second pumper arrived and parked on the other side from their green pumper…Sullivan`s new pumper 854 then arrived with their tanker and second pumper not far behind…

After Sullivan`s pumpers entered the field by me…I had a horse come trotting down toward the gate, so I shooed him back into the middle of the field and then he turned and headed toward the driveway…one of the family members soon walked down and secured him in the front corner of the pasture near the driveway. Firefighters continued to pour water in through the front windows of the house in an attempt to knock down the intense fire and heat….

Soon after Sullivan`s tanker arrived, more tankers arrived from Leasburg, Cuba, and Beaufort-Leslie. A second alarm was requested at some point by Command, bringing in additional tankers from Owensville, St Clair, and Gerald….

….and soon after a pumper arrived from Steelville…Joe Smart, a good firefighter friend of mine was on board with a young crew and they were assigned to set up a drafting station at a lake just up the road from the residence, to fill the tankers and cut down on the return time for more water….

Lee Eikerman and his son assisted Joe and his young crew by chopping a hole in the thick ice on the pond, while Joe and his crew hooked up the hard suction lines to the truck and fitted it with the right appliances for drafting…Joe also placed his deck gun into operation so as to circulate the water through the pump and keep it from freezing up in the extremely cold temps. The fire was soon brought under control although firefighters remained on scene for some time that afternoon…great job by all there !!






Structure Fire at Flying A Motorsports near Rosati

Late morning on Dec 19th, Cuba Fire Department responded to a structure fire at Flying A Motorsports near Rosati, and struck a second alarm with heavy brown smoke showing on arrival. Sullivan and Bourbon firefighters responded along with several other departments…by the time I got there and positioned on the eastbound shoulder of I-44 to shoot across the interstate, brown smoke was still flowing out the south side doors and Cuba`s ladder was set up at the front of the building and the roofline laddered and a tanker shuttle was established as well….

…and what it turned out to be was one of those pretty signs that lights up and hangs inside the store, caught fire and smoked up the interior real well.


Car Fire End of Highway WW Dec 2017

Late afternoon of December 13th, I found out where Marko Turner lives…call came in over the scanner for Bourbon Fire Department to respond to a vehicle fire at the end of Highway WW. I drove out there and saw heavy black smoke the closer I got to the end of the highway, turned around at the end and drove back to a very nice ranch style home and up into the large circle drive to find Marko standing there with a car and motorcycle fully involved behind him….

I thought he was first on the scene, but then he said no, this is his residence..for some reason I thought he lived farther out Licklider Road, this was also one of his cars that was now on fire…had it been closer to the house, his house might have caught fire too…glad for his sake that it didn`t happen. Bourbon showed up seconds later and began to extinguish both fires, and soon after Sullivan showed up to assist…

Stetson Zelch made the initial attack on the car fire…

and here you see Devin Mooney from BFD on the hoseline….