A precise cause of the June 1 fire that destroyed the historic McCrillis Building that housed the Sassy Spoon restaurant could not be determined, according to Carthage Fire Chief Chris Thompson, but the fire was ruled accidental in nature.
In a written release, Thompson said the Carthage Fire Department, Carthage Police Department, State Fire Marshal's office and Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives all investigated the scene on June 3.
“As a result of the investigation, this fire was determined to be accidental due to the inability to eliminate the possibility of an ignited candle left unattended in close proximity to other normal combustible materials,” Thompson said. “The Carthage Fire Department extends a heartfelt thank you to all responders and volunteers who responded to this extremely large and challenging fire. Without your help, the outcome for our historic downtown area could have been drastically different.”
The Carthage firefighter who was injured when the building collapsed was treated at Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital in Carthage for minor injuries and released.
Thompson said the fire call came in at approximately 3:05 p.m. on Saturday, June 1, and firefighters were on scene within five minutes.
He said the first crews saw heavy smoke coming from the eaves and vents of the three-story building at 146 E. Fourth St., and heavy smoke filled all three levels of the building.
“Additional aerial units were immediately requested via mutual aid from Webb City and Joplin Fire Departments,” Thompson said in his release. “Fire crews attempted several interior searches of the building to locate the seat of the fire, but all were unsuccessful. The building collapsed approximately three hours into the event.”
Thompson said it took 35 firefighters to bring the blaze under control at approximately 11 p.m. on June 1. The Carthage Public Works Department determined that one of the remaining standing walls needed to be torn down immediately to prevent it from collapsing, and Bennett Construction, of Lamar, responded to remove the wall.
Thompson acknowledged the help received from several area agencies and individuals.
“The Carthage Fire Department received help at the scene from Joplin, Webb City, and Carterville Fire Departments; as well as the Carthage Police Department, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Mercy EMS, Carthage Water and Electric, Carthage Public Works Department, Carthage Street Department, and the American Red Cross,” Thompson wrote. “Oronogo and Carterville Fire Departments responded to the Carthage Fire Department and covered our response area while our personnel were dedicated to the fire on the square. Numerous citizens assisted in preparing meals for on-scene firefighters, as well as firefighters who covered all other emergency calls in the Carthage Fire District.”