Holloway Farms fire ruling reached

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Pictured is a portion of the Holloway Farms building near Butterfield, which was totally flattened by a fire on Feb. 8. John Holloway, owner of the property, said he plans to rebuild in the same location after he gets the go-ahead to clean up the damage. Kyle Troutman editor@cassville-democrat.com

Owner plans to rebuild in same location after cleanup

The Missouri Department of Public Safety has made a ruling regarding the cause of the fire that flattened the Holloway Farms building in Butterfield on Feb. 8.

Mike O'Connell, communications director for the department, said the final ruling is that the cause is undetermined, despite early indications the fire started at an electrical panel on the east side of the building.

"The Division of Fire Safety determination on the fire is that the cause will be listed as undetermined due to the extent of the damage and the inability to eliminate the electrical panel as the cause," he said. "Fire-cause investigations are conducted by through a process of eliminating possible causes. For instance, lightning could be eliminated, arson could be eliminated, etc. The investigators were not able to eliminate the electrical panel."

John Holloway, owner of the building, said he was outside the southwest side of the building, and one employee was inside when the fire began.

"The flames came from the outside of the building in the vicinity of the fuse box and circuit breakers," he said. "I have no clue what else it could have been. I had one employee inside working on a piece of equipment. He had been there about an hour and he didn't even know the fire had started.

"Someone told me about it, and I went around the building and saw it and called 911. It took about 7-8 minutes for the firefighters to get there, and by then, I was calling again telling them to send more because it was already out of control."

Holloway said the wind was the real driver of the fire, feeding it oxygen and making it grow quickly.

"The wind was coming from the west side and was like a big, giant blow torch," he said. "It was unbelievable a building that big would fall down so quickly."

Butterfield, Purdy, Cassville, Monett City, Monett Rural and Wheaton fire department all responded.

"It was amazing all the fire departments worked so well together," Holloway said. "They couldn't save my building, but they did save all of my neighbors."

Firefighters had to douse a grass fire threatening a couple nearby buildings, which were evacuated as a precaution.

"It's amazing they worked so well together, and I still wonder how they kept it all under control as good as they did," Holloway said. "I have nothing but praise for them, and the Barry County Sheriff's Office and Missouri State Highway Patrol. That fire should still be going across the country."

Looking forward, Holloway said he plans to rebuild as soon as he is given the go-ahead.

"As soon as they give me the OK, I will clean up all the debris and see if the concrete floor is still usable," he said. "Even if it's not, I will build back. There's no equipment or anything in the building that's reusable. It's just all up in the air right now because the insurance company said it's not my fault, and I have to get an estimate from a cleanup crew and see how much the scrap metal can sell for to give that money to the insurance company."

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