Wildfires in the area west of Rolla, Missouri, have essentially been extinguished. Firefighters took on at least three fires in the area Tuesday. By Wednesday, all that remained were acres upon acres of scorched earth. One of the fires, north of Doolittle on Phelps County Road 8260, destroyed two homes before spreading for close to a mile.
Charles Enlow is the son-in-law of the homeowners. He says the house fire wasn’t the result of the wildfire there, but the cause of it. He tells us an electrical fire started the blaze, which spread quickly with the high winds. The elderly couple wasn’t home when it broke out.
“(They) went in town to get breakfast and do some shopping,” he said. “They came back home and this is what they found.”
The scene they returned to was still smoldering more than 24 hours after the fire first started. The home was a log cabin that had stood for more than 125 years. It was razed by the flames, along with a second home on the property and a workshop adjacent to it.
The family lost everything, and Enlow says they have no insurance. A friend nearby is providing them with a house while they get back on their feet. The one thing they can’t replace, however, is the generations of memories now left in ashes.
“All the kids growed up here,” Enlow said. “All the grandkids growed up here. All the great grandkids growed up here. Five generations growed up here and it’s all gone now.”
The most visible of the fires was burning on both sides of Interstate 44 between mile markers 175 and 174. That’s about four miles from the Doolittle blaze. Smoldering hot spots were still visible, but the fire was basically out on Wednesday.
Officials say the cause is still under investigation, but they confirm they are looking into reports of residents burning shrub in the area prior to the flames spreading.
Another home was damaged by a third fire closer to Rolla, according to reports in the Rolla Daily News.