KWIX radio reporter Eric Duick contributed to this story
An investigation of an intense fire in the mid-Missouri town of Clark last week is complete, but the cause is still not known.
Flames from the blaze at the MFA Agri Service building in Clark were visible for six hours after its eruption, and crews were on the scene for 24-hours to extinguish hot spots. Southern Randolph County Fire Department Captain Charlie Peel has listed the cause as undetermined.
“With the amount of damage that was done, the amount of debris that was in the field in the area where we were at, we had a couple of suspected ideas” said Peel. “I’m not going elaborate on them. But we just weren’t able to for sure say that’s what it was, so we’re just going to leave it as undetermined.”
Peel says he was unable pinpoint the cause of the blaze because of the extent of the damage.
“There’s not a whole lot left. Due to the structural stability, we had to tear the walls down with the heavy equipment, so we could get in there to put the fire out. The building has been pretty much leveled. I believe that they’re fixing to start carrying debris out sometime this next week.”
Investigators initially did not suspect suspicious activity contributed to the blaze, but now say they can’t make conclusions.
Randolph County Sheriff Mark Nichols, who was on-scene at the fire which ignited last Monday before 11:30 p.m., said numerous agencies in Randolph and Boone counties were called in to assist.
The Randolph County Sheriff’s Department, Eastern Randolph County Fire Protection District, Boone County Fire Protection District, Westran Fire Protection District, Moberly Fire Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, and Randolph County Ambulance District were among the responders.
A few onlookers said they were asked to vacate their nearby houses while crews extinguished the fire, but were allowed to make a quick return.
Southern Randolph County Fire Captain Peel described the strength of the fire.
“You have a building that’s a hundred years old. It’s got a lot of dry wood in it. The building itself had a lot of combustible materials in it. There were some flammable materials in there for forklifts and propane bottles, all sorts of industrial equipment and feed supply equipment to strengthen that fire load within the building. There was a group of three of us that tried to make an initial attack on the interior, but due to the heat and the walls collapsing, we backed out.”
MFA Agri Services is operated by MFA Incorporated. According to its website, the business is “a Midwest-based regional farm supply and marketing cooperative serving more than 45,000 farmer/owners in Missouri and adjacent states”. It has 106 company-owned centers along with 24 locally owned branch locations.
KWIX radio reporter Eric Duick described the Clark outlet as far and away the largest building in the small community.
Amanda Cooper with MFA Incorporated said the store chiefly sold seed, fertilizer and other products used in agriculture. She said one of the company’s mobile recovery units has been dispatched to the Clark location, and that all six of the stores workers remain employed.
Cooper said the fire resulted in a $1 million loss for MFA Incorporated, and plans are in the works to rebuild at the location.