Alleged arson destroys Cassville law office

Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Pictured is the back entry to the Law Office of Michael Riehn, located at 301 W. 8th St. in Cassville, which was destroyed in a fire early Friday morning. Cassville police and the Missouri Division of Fire Safety are investigating the cause of the blaze. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Investigators: 'We have determined the fire to be intentionally set'

Cassville police and the Missouri Division of Fire Safety are investigating an alleged arson that destroyed the Law Office of Michael Riehn, located at 301 W. 8th St. in Cassville.

According to the Cassville Police Department, first responders were dispatched to the building at 2:35 a.m. on Friday for the structure fire.

Mike O'Connell, communications director at the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said police arrived first, then fire districts arrived to suppress the blaze.

"It was primarily contained to one office inside the structure," O'Connell said. "We are continuing to investigate, [behind the Cassville Fire Protection District's lead], and we have determined the fire to be intentionally set."

Assisting the Cassville Fire Protection District with the blaze were the Butterfield Fire Department and Exeter Fire Protection District. Randy Sweet, fire marshal with the Missouri Division of Fire Safety, also responded to investigate the cause of the fire.

Riehn said he first heard about the incident at about 4:30 a.m. Friday morning, and the fire was mostly extinguished by the time he arrived at the building. He said it was an emotional scene when he got there.

"I cried when I rounded the corner on H Street," he said. "It was a total loss. The damage was primarily in the back of the building, my office specifically. They also had to take part of the roof off to make sure they put out all the hot spots."

Riehn said he plans to reopen his office, possibly in the same location.

"We are keeping all our options open," he said. "But, our intent is we are not going anywhere."

In the meantime, the office has been relocated to 3200 County Farm Road Ste. A, which is Chip Kammerlohr's former veterinary clinic. People may still reach Riehn at the same phone number, 417-847-1339.

"People can rest assured, we will still be here to take care of them," he said.

On its Facebook page, the Cassville Fire Protection District thanked the Exeter and Butterfield firefighters for assisting, along with the Cassville Public Works Department for providing a backhoe to help fully extinguish the fire.

"It was a very cold morning, and the help is greatly appreciated," the Cassville district's post said. "Exeter responded as part of our automatic mutual aid agreement, and Butterfield was requested for additional manpower."

The district also thanked the Cassville Police Department, Barry County Sheriff's Office and Barry County E911 for their help.

"Without everyone's teamwork, all of our jobs would be much harder," the post said.

Riehn said he also had great help going through the damages, including from his wife, Shelly Riehn, and his employees, Julie Loveland and Garla Parsons.

"Without those three girls, I don't know where we would be," he said. "They were knee-deep in the ruble going through stuff, and I'm not sure I would have done that for my employer."

O'Connell said anyone with information about the alleged arson should call the arson hotline at 1-800-39ARSON (1-800-392-7766).

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