Massive fire destroys home built by Mark Twain’s uncle

ST. LOUIS_ More than 100 firefighters were called to the scene of a four-alarm fire in north St. Louis Wednesday morning (July 12).

The initial call came in around 3:30 a.m. for a fire near the intersection of Helen and Mullanphy Streets. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they said the four-story brick building was fully involved. The building was later identified as the James Clemens House built in the 1800s. Due to the size of the fire, embers could be seen in the sky for blocks surrounding the building.

While battling that fire, another fire broke out at a building at 15th St. and Cass Avenue. Firefighters are skeptical the embers from the James Clemens House fire are the cause of this fire.

St. Louis Fire Department Captain Garon Mosby said wind conditions did play a factor in spreading embers throughout the neighborhood and onto the rooftops of nearby buildings including occupied homes.

"We had a few roof fires at some of these homes in the block so we’ve got some firefighters wetting down the rooftops now," Mosby said.

The traveling embers started fires at two houses on the 1600 block of Helen just down the street from the James Clemens House. One home was occupied, the other was vacant. Fire officials said the damage to the homes was minor. No one was evacuated or displaced. One person was treated for smoke inhalation. No other injuries were reported.

At the height of the activity, there were about 100 firefighters battling fire at the four buildings.

In addition to the wind conditions, Mosby said knocking down the fire in the James Clemens House was challenging because it was hard to access.

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