On Tuesday, Jan. 24 at approximately 5:45 a.m. the City of Rolla Fire & Rescue responded to a report of a structure fire at 505 Highway 72, Rolla, MO which is occupied by AutoZone. Upon arrival, firefighters found heavy smoke and fire coming from the basement area. Firefighters began an interior attack to extinguish the fire. The department initially responded with nine firefighters and two 75 foot ladder trucks.
A second alarm was activated with an additional fourteen off-duty firefighters and command staff responding. Due to the large structure and extent of the fire, the Rolla Rural Fire Protection District and the St. James Rural Fire Protection District responded providing an additional twelve firefighters at the scene as well as covering additional fire related incidents within the City of Rolla. Due to the risk of contaminates entering the storm water system, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources also responded.
After approximately 30 minutes of interior fire attack, incident command made the decision to remove all firefighters from the interior of the building due to the loss of the structural integrity of the floor, walls, and roof. A defensive fire attack was initiated by using a backhoe with a jackhammer attachment to make openings in the concrete basement walls allowing firefighters access into the burning area.
The fire was placed under control at 9:02 a.m. with the direct flame damage being contained to the basement. There were no injuries to occupants or firefighters. Due to the extreme heat of the fire, the floor joists were twisted and distorted which caused shifting and bowing of the flooring. This damage of the flooring caused many of the shelves of the AutoZone store to fall and collapse which destroyed the majority of the AutoZone inventory.
The City of Rolla Fire & Rescue has initiated an investigation in conjunction with the Missouri Division of Fire Safety and the City of Rolla Police Department. At this time, the fire has been determined to be suspicious and incendiary in nature. If anyone has information regarding this fire, please call the Missouri Arson Hotline at 1-800-392-7766 (800-39-ARSON).
“I am extremely happy with the performance of the firefighters as they battled a complex fire while enduring severe cold weather conditions," said Robert Williams, Fire Chief.
Damage to the building is estimated to exceed $100,000 and damage to the personal property which includes AutoZone merchandise at approximately $900,000.
The department would like to extend our appreciation to Rolla Rural Fire Protection District, St. James Fire Protection District, Phelps County Regional Medical Center Ambulance Services, Rolla Municipal Utilities, Rolla Street Department, City of Rolla Police Department, Rolla VIPS, City of Rolla Building Codes, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Phelps County Sheriff Department, Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Country Mart, Benton Square, and Pizza Inn.