Fast-moving fire destroys empty Theodosia home in Holiday Hills subdivision

A fast-burning fire destroyed an unoccupied home in the Holiday Hills subdivision of Theodosia Wednesday, Oct. 17. The state fire marshal was called to investigate the blaze, but his report, filed with the Missouri Division of Fire Safety, said the damage was too extensive to determine the fire’s origin. Photo courtesy Joe Rinehart.

Theodosia Area VFD firefighter Allen Edgington, facing camera, talks with Pontiac / Price Place VFD firefighter Al Davison at the scene of the fire that destroyed an unoccupied home on Blueridge Drive in Theodosia last week. Edgington and Michael Atkins, working the hose in the background, were the only two TAVFD personnel available to respond to the blaze. PPPVFD and Timber Knob VFD responded in mutual aid. Photo submitted.

A fast-moving fire destroyed an unoccupied Theodosia home Wednesday morning, Oct. 17.

Theodosia Area Volunteer Fire Department volunteer Allen Edgington said he was alerted to the fire on Blueridge Drive, about two blocks from his own home in the Holiday Hills neighborhood, by Jay Torry, who drove to Edgington’s home a little after 9:30 a.m., “honking his horn” and then “banging on the door,” Edgington said.

Edgington hadn’t noticed smoke or been notified of the nearby fire. Torry’s cell phone is based in another area code, and he thought if he dialed 911 it might go to another area, Edgington said, so after he spotted the fire, he hurriedly drove to Edgington’s nearby  home instead. 

Edgington radioed Ozark County Sheriff’s Department dispatcher Ken Burnett, asking him to tone out Theodosia Area VFD as well as Pontiac / Price Place and Thornfield VFDs in mutual aid. 

TAVFD was shorthanded, with several personnel out of the area, and firefighter Michael Atkins was the only other TAVFD volunteer who was able to respond. He and Edgington met at the firehouse, about a half mile from Edgington’s home, to pick up the department’s tanker truck and then hurried back to the fire.

 A few minutes earlier, Elaine Burnett had seen “black smoke” as she was leaving Theodosia Hardware, her family’s business across Highway 160 from the neighborhood where the house was burning. “When I got there, the fire was just in the garage,” she said. She honked her horn but didn’t see anyone in or around the house. Burnett called the sheriff’s department to report the fire then continued around the loop to return to Highway 160. 

“By the time I came back around – it couldn’t have been more than three minutes – the whole house was engulfed,” she said. 

When Edgington and Atkins arrived with the TAVFD tanker a few minutes later, the house “was on the ground,” Edgington said. He called former TAVFD chief Norm Jarrett and asked him to help them. Ozark County Ambulance was on scene in case a firefighter needed medical attention.

“Pontiac got on scene just as I was about to run out of water,” Edgington said. Timber Knob VFD arrived soon after.

Edgington called the fire marshal to investigate the fire. Missouri Division of Fire Safety spokesman Mike O’Connel said Monday in an email to the Times that the cause of the fire “is listed as undetermined because the damage was too extensive to determine a point of origin or cause.” He said the wood-frame, single-family, one-story structure on a concrete slab was vacant at the time of the fire, but electricity was in service. The southeast corner of the structure had heavy fire damage and remained standing, but all other areas of the structure were fully consumed, he said.

Edgington said the home was the long-time home of the late Jim Maddox, who had moved to Arkansas several months before his death in October 2017. The home is currently owned by Tommy and Glenda Smith of Cabool, said Edgington, adding that the Smiths had been renovating the home when it burned. It had an insured value of $50,000, he said.

All firefighters cleared the scene at 12:09 p.m. “I thanked Pontiac and Timber Knob profusely for their help,” Edgington said.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423