Blaze burns down Holloway Farms building
Property completely flattened by wind-fueled fire
Members of multiple area fire districts battled a massive structure fire Monday that destroyed the Holloway Farms building by the Payless Auto Salvage property on Highway 37, about half a mile north of Butterfield.
According to initial reports from Randy Kalbaugh, Barry County sheriff's deputy, witnesses said the blaze may have been started by a faulty electrical box on the east side of the building.
Tommy Ray, Butterfield Fire District chief, said the fire was one of the largest his department has ever fought. He said Fire Marshal Robert Sterner is still investigating to determine the official cause of the fire.
John Holloway, owner of the property, said he's been in the building about seven years, and its contents were things like tools and a couple farm trucks.
"I'm still working on Plan A right now and then we'll see what happens," he said. "I'm still kind of in shock."
More than a handful of local fire districts responded to the scene, with the first call coming to the Butterfield district at 12:58 p.m. Butterfield was joined by the Purdy, Cassville, Wheaton, Monett Rural and Monett City fire districts in battling the massive fire for about four hours.
Nick Mercer, Purdy Fire District chief, said the initial 911 dispatch confirmed no one was in the building, which he said quickly became fully involved, as it was made of wood and had metal siding.
"I would guess Purdy alone used about 22,000 gallons of water in this fight, and that's just a guesstimate," he said. "When we finalize our numbers, it will probably be closer to 30,000 to 35,000."
Mercer said the building was completely flattened by the blaze, which was already out of control by the time trucks arrived on scene.
"The wind fed it oxygen like no other," he said. "I was in the third truck on the scene, and by that point, it was already lit up. I don't think we were able to save much in there."
At one point in the battle, about 30 minutes after it began, an explosion created a large fireball and mushroom cloud. The cause of the explosion is still unknown.
"I suspect it was some type of solvent or something inside the building, but we don't know for sure," Mercer said.
Mercer said the Monett City Fire District provided one engine, and Monett Rural provided a tanker. Butterfield had an engine and a tanker on the scene, as did Cassville. He believed Wheaton provided one engine and a command vehicle, and Purdy sent one engine and two tankers.
While there were no injuries from the blaze, nearby residences had to be evacuated due to smoke and grass fires.
"One of the houses nearby was getting a lot of the smoke, and the grass caught fire and was spreading quickly to those two houses," Mercer said.