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The Carthage Press
  • Square loses historic McCrillis building

  • The Carthage Fire Department has had continuous presence on the scene of the Sassy Spoon fire since 3 p.m. Saturday, and it will continue into Tuesday.
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  • The Carthage Fire Department has had continuous presence on the scene of the Sassy Spoon fire since 3 p.m. Saturday, and it will continue into Tuesday.
    Carthage Fire Marshal Tom Nixon said the cause of the fire is still under investigation – a call that put the entire CFD staff of 21 on the scene.
    “These old buildings are built with balloon construction, which means a fire's quickest way to spread is up through the floor joists,” Nixon said. “We couldn't pin-point where the fire was until it had spread to the attic and at that point we went on defensive instead of an offensive approach. We focused on the building next door, from the basement to the roof because a lot of the basements on the Square are connected.”
    Fire departments from Joplin, Webb City, Oronogo and Carterville helped the Carthage emergency responders with the fire. Nixon said about three hours into working the scene, the roof collapsed, and about 15 minutes after that, the front of the building fell.
    “It was before the roof collapsed that one of our firefighters was injured,” he said. “He's fine now, recovering at home with his family.”
    On Monday, the state fire marshal as well as A.T.F., were on scene investigating the fire.
    A Hole on the Square
    Michele Hansford locked the door Saturday evening to the Powers Museum and made her way to see the destruction of the historic building.
    “We saw the smoke from Oak Street,” she said. “Looking at our records, in 1883, the building officially opened as the McCrillis Brothers Hardware store, and had the largest plate glass windows in Carthage … A lot of the feelings people have around here is a big sense of loss because that building has been there forever.”
    By Monday, the corner of the historic Square was a pile of rubble, and a steady flow of traffic slowly circled the area.
    On Facebook, everyone connected to Carthage expressed condolences for the owners of the building, the Stiles family, and admiration for the emergency responders.
    “My family thanks you all for your support,” said Caleb Stiles. “We are all OK. Our home is gone but all the memories that we have there will always be with us. The stuff does not matter just that we are all safe.”
    Many expressed the loss of a memorable place.
    “That is so sad,” said Lisa Qualls. “That used to be the Scott's 5 & 10 when I was growing up.”
    For the Firefighters
    Nixon said all emergency teams worked well together including other departments including the Carthage Police Department.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Our guys worked extremely hard and we're very pleased with everyone,” he said. “This was a big event for Carthage, and any town for that matter. And people don't realize the amount of work that needs to be done after the fire is put out … like the trucks need to be back in operation as soon as possible for any other call we might  receive.”
    Lujene Greene Clark shared her thoughts through Facebook.
    “I served on the Public Safety Committee when I was on the City Council. Also went through the Citizen Fire Academy and Citizen Police Academy. I know most of those men. They are, without a doubt, some of the finest men and firefighters anywhere. Carthage is extremely fortunate to have such dedicated professionals at the Fire and Police Department.”
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