A year ago, the mid-Missouri community of Wooldridge was still smoldering from a wildfire that destroyed about three thousand acres.
Tim Scherrer, a local high school teacher, clean-up volunteer and writer has reconstructed the events in a book, Half the Town Burned, the Great Wooldridge Fire of 2022. He said the interagency and volunteer response was swift and historic: “This was the largest fire mutual aid response incident in the history of the state — 63 departments 161 firefighters.”
Listen to Scherrer interview:
Public and commercial volunteers stopped the fire near Interstate 70. “There were wildland firefighters from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife. And then also Missouri Department of Conservation that came in and they paired with construction companies that donated their crews and equipment to build firebreaks we were not far from that fire jumping the I-70 Bridge, like they were within several hundred yards,” Scherrer said.
The ongoing part of the Wooldridge story is that residential recovery has been slow. “The people that were living there they were right on the edge of you know they were just barely making it and this fire just pushed push them over the edge and they really did not get much support from anyone and some people are still struggling today,” Scherrer told Missourinet.”
Missourinet’s Ashley Byrd spoke with Cooper County Fire Chief David Gehm this past spring about the cleanup efforts.
Listen to excerpt: (7:15)
Scherrer’s self-published book is sold locally.