A fire destroyed the south end of the St. Louis DPW outdoor storage structure on Thursday, Oct. 18.
It broke out around noon where 100 bales of straw were stored and quickly started to burn the 2×6 boards holding up the metal roof.
Six DPW workers were lunching in the main building, said Superintendent Mark Abbott, when Al Strouse of the Wastewater Treatment Plant ran in exclaiming, “There’s smoke! You’ve got a fire!” Abbott said.
After the initial shock everyone sprung into action, including employees of the Water Department and Wastewater Treatment Plant. “I yelled at some guys to get the fire extinguishers,” Abbott said.
While some of the men worked to contain the fire with small, hand-held fire extinguishers, others moved nearby equipment out of the way. Had they not acted, two trucks would have been “roasted” along with tillers, rakes, back blades and more, Abbott said.
Someone called 911 to alert the fire department. Abbott thinks it may have been Strouse. And the trucks arrived in less than five minutes, Abbott said. “I knew we wouldn’t be able to put it out with fire extinguishers.”
Destroyed in the fire were 20 guardrail posts, four tubs of sandbags and a few bicycles that police had stored there.
Abbott said Fire Chief Rich Apps was uncertain as to the cause of the fire, but said it could have spontaneously combusted.
In the aftermath, Abbott wrote the following for everyone who worked to put out the fire: “If it were not for Al Strouse and his quick response to seeing the smoke and notifying staff, and for DPW and Water staff quickly moving trucks and equipment, manning fire extinguishers and assisting fire department and police department staff as they put out the fire things could have turned out much worse and with a much greater loss. When I first saw the fire my heart sank, but after watching each of you doing anything needed to help, the hard work everyone did, and the camaraderie you had with each other, I was greatly encouraged. I consider it a privilege and an honor to work with you all.”
The St. Louis DPW garage and office is located at the east end of Prospect Street, near the middle school.