Downtown Chaffee building heavily damaged by fire

Friday, May 22, 2009 ~ Updated 8:44 PM
A building converted into apartments in downtown Chaffee, Mo., burned Friday morning. (LINDA DOWD ~ Scott County Signal)

CHAFFEE, Mo. -- A mid-morning fire in Chaffee heavily damaged one of the downtown's oldest structures on Friday. Firefighters from Scott City, Oran and Delta assisted the Chaffee Fire department in putting out the blaze that began in the top floor apartment at 116 S. Main Street around 10 a.m. No one was injured, but residents living in the building that had been converted to apartments were forced to evacuate quickly. The fire also damaged the adjacent apartment building at 118 S. Main Street.

Jared Jackson is the owner of both buildings. Jackson, with his 18-month-old daughter along, was showing the vacant upstairs apartment to Crystal Cray, who said she had been waiting for Jackson to finish renovating the space so she could move in.

According to Chaffee fire chief Sam Glency, the fire began when Jackson turned on the air conditioner. The blaze spread rapidly through the electrical system of the building.

Cray said Jackson went to turn on the air conditioner and they heard the sound of something shorting out.

"He went around to the panel, and I saw smoke coming out, so I grabbed the baby, went running out and called 911," Cray said.

Four area fire departments respond to a blaze at 114 S. Main St. in Chaffee, Mo., Friday morning. The top floor of the apartment building had major damage. (Kit Doyle)

"There were also people in the building right next door, and Jared went and told them to get out," said Cray.

Jackson ran to turn off the breakers and meters on the building, but the fire spread quickly, engulfing the building in flames.

Jackson's brother-in-law lived in the downstairs apartment which Glency said sustained water and smoke damage.

Darlene Dumey was among the bystanders across the street who watched from the four fire departments spray down the brick building.

Dumey said her parents owned the building for more than 50 years, and her home was in the upstairs back apartment when her father had several businesses there.

"Me and my six brothers and sisters grew up there," said Dumey, pointing to the badly burned section of the upper floor.

"Whenever there were more kids, we would just section off the rooms," said Dumey.

"It was supposedly the oldest building in Chaffee, moved down from three blocks away with a team of mules on logs," she said.

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