Skip to content

Friday night fire destroys home

Multiple area fire departments were called to a Bonne Terre home on Long Street late Friday evening after the fire chief saw flames from two blocks away.

Big River/Bonne Terre Fire Chief Dave Pratte said he was enjoying an evening of nice weather with family sitting out front of his fire museum when he saw the glow of flames through the night.

Flames shoot up from a house on North Long Street in Bonne Terre Friday night. 

Flames shoot up from a house on North Long Street in Bonne Terre Friday night. 

“I was sitting out there with my granddaughter, daughter and her husband,” Pratte recalled. “I said ‘look at that!’ I jumped up and told them to ‘close the garage door, I have to go.’ I jumped in my truck that was right in front of me and went around the block and there was heavy fire going from the basement through the roof. They had to be 50 feet into the air.”

Pratte said he notified Central Dispatch and a first alarm was dispatched. He believes if it had gone unnoticed any longer there would have been a risk to nearby houses. He explained it was an older house that had been built onto two or three times with multiple roofs.

“Fortunately there had been a medical emergency and (the owners) weren’t home,” Pratte said. “It’s good they weren’t home because they may have perished. Their son said as bad as it was that they had to go to the hospital, it saved their life because they would have been in bed sleeping at 10 p.m. at night.”

Pratte explained there was heavy fire and smoke and they ended up striking a second alarm for manpower. When he pulled up there were no neighbors out anywhere. It was totally dark in the area and very hard to see other than what the fire was doing.

“We were on scene for about five hours,” Pratte said. “It was a difficult fire due to the construction of the house. There was major extension through the attic and even under the house there was fire. We had to figure out an access to get underneath.”

Pratte said there was a small basement access and it had crawled across the basement and got under the foundation. They also had a ceiling collapse.

“We went inside and could see smoke coming through the cracks of the floor, so we knew there was fire underneath and we knew there was fire in the attic because there were was fire coming out of the attic,” Pratte said. “So we had fire above us and below us and it was a very dangerous situation.”

Pratte said the firefighters could only go so long and would have to come out to rest, so they had to get more manpower.

“That is why we struck a second alarm,” Pratte said. “Assistant Fire Chief Allen Stegall handled command for me and I was doing operations.”

Long Street in Bonne Terre is lined with fire trucks late Friday night as firefighters work to put out a fire.

Long Street in Bonne Terre is lined with fire trucks late Friday night as firefighters work to put out a fire.

Stegall said they struck a second alarm, but added more trucks, so it was basically a third alarm at that point.

“You look down around the door facing and see smoke oozing up from the floor, you start asking questions,” said Pratte. “Is it going to cave in? How much space is under you and what is under there? We did pull back in that area and it’s a good thing we did because the ceiling came down.”

Pratte said they did call the State Fire Marshal out to investigate the cause of the fire, which is still under investigation.

“The fire definitely started in the basement area,” said Pratte. “There was heavy fire in the basement and heavy fire won’t get in the basement unless it started there that early in the fire. It had already burned through the floor and the roof.”

He explained it was a small cellar-like basement and they couldn’t hardly get access to it because the house had been built on with foundation. Pratte said there wasn’t even a crawl space, there were just holes where they could look through there.

“So they had to diligently get in there and try to get to the fire,” Pratte said. “Plus the basement was filling up with water from all the firefighting, so it was waist deep in there. It became a hard challenge to get to the fire underneath the floor, as well as the fire above the attic. It would go down, then come back up, then go down again and back up.”

Pratte said it was just a very difficult fire. He added firefighters were in the stations within three minutes of him seeing fire and they were able to quickly get a truck on the scene with two lines off attacking the fire, but it didn’t slow the fire down.

“There was just no slowing it down,” recalled Pratte. “It had a tongue and groove ceiling, so it was hard to get through and the ceilings were so heavy anyway. When they are full of water, it’s like putting a swimming pool up there, they will just cave in.”

Pratte added they had a lot of good firefighters out there who pay attention to their job and they did their best.

There were no injuries, but they did send one firefighter to have their blood pressure checked at the hospital and was also checked for exhaustion.

Farmington, Leadington, Park Hills, Desloge, De Soto Rural, Jefferson R-7, De Soto City and Lake Timberline Fire Departments were on the scene. Wolf Creek moved up to Big River to assist with other calls. 

The home, which belonged to Larry and Janet Barton, was a total loss.

A late night fire destroys a Bonne Terre home. The homeowners were not home at the time.</p><p class=

See more photos at www.dailyjournalonline.com.” width=”800″ /> A late night fire destroys a Bonne Terre home. The homeowners were not home at the time.

See more photos at www.dailyjournalonline.com.

Firefighters work to put out a fire that destroyed a Bonne Terre home.

Firefighters work to put out a fire that destroyed a Bonne Terre home.

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

Leave a Comment