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Gunpowder-fueled blaze destroys home west of Crocker
Gunpowder-fueled blaze destroys home west of Crocker

Firefighters were hampered in their efforts to fight a blaze on Highway KK west of Crocker when a power line burned off the building and dropped down across the roadway.
CROCKER, Mo. (Nov. 21, 2008) — A gunpowder-fed blaze destroyed a home west of Crocker Friday morning.

According to Crocker Assistant Fire Chief Mark Fancher, 23 firefighters from four departments responded to a fully-involved house fire at 11690 Highway KK, which is about a mile north of the Highway U junction. The house and contents were a total loss, Fancher said, with damage estimated at $60,000.

The resident, who was in the process of moving out, did not have insurance.

Fancher said the resident had brought a U-Haul truck to the house and was planning to finish taking items to a new house in the same area. When he entered the house, he discovered he couldn’t turn the lights on, went to the electrical breaker box, and turned on the breaker. Within minutes, the house caught fire and another person outside yelled to him to flee the house.

“Before he could clear the yard with the truck, windows were blowing out with the fire,” Fancher said. “We later found several containers of gunpowder which are why the fire spread so fast — the fire started within two feet of where the gunpowder was stored.”

Fancher said the resident told him he had previously reloaded gun cartridges.

Firefighting was complicated by downed power lines.

“We had a problem when an electrical line burned off the house,” Fancher said. “We had to stretch almost 400 feet of hose because the line fell about 250 feet behind our trucks. It was hanging two feet off the ground so even if it had been a dead power line, the road was completely impassable.”

Fancher called for an emergency response by linemen from Gascosage Electric Cooperative.

“They were fairly quick; they got out there promptly after I called,” Fancher said.

Once electrical workers shut down the line, firefighters were able to make an aggressive attack. The fire was brought under control by 11:48 a.m. and firefighters left the scene at 12:45 p.m.

Electric linemen weren’t the only personnel to respond promptly. Like most Pulaski County fire agencies, the Crocker Rural Fire Protection District is a volunteer department and getting people to respond to major daytime fires can be difficult. Fancher called for a second alarm, which gets mutual aid from numerous other agencies, shortly after the fire broke out.

Eleven Crocker firefighters responded with five engines, two tankers and a mini-pumper. Six Tri-County firefighters responded with an engine and a tanker, two Brumley firefighters responded with an engine and a tanker, and four Waynesville firefighters responded with an engine to the Crocker fire station for backup coverage and were eventually moved to a fire pump station in the Crocker school parking lot to assist with power-fill for a tanker convoy relaying water to the fire scene. Hazelgreen firefighters also responded to the Tri-County station in Richland for backup coverage.

About 12,000 gallons of water were used on the fire, Fancher said, and Pulaski County Ambulance District paramedics responded for standby coverage although no injuries happened to the residents or firefighters.

“I was shocked that we had 11 people and we were able to move six vehicles,” Fancher said. “Anytime we are able to get that kind of response to a daytime fire, it’s great.”

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