OZARK, Mo. — Firefighters battled a large structure fire at Industrial Wood Products at 2161 Industrial Court in Ozark. The building is a total loss, but all employees have been evacuated and are uninjured.
According to a viewer who spotted the fire, it was “as tall as trees.”
The fire was driven by high winds and quickly spread throughout the building, triggering a second and third alarm for more fire crews from the surrounding areas.
The fire spread from outside pallets to the main building and grew rapidly, according to fire officials.
“It’s lucky, I think,” says Whitney Weaver, assistant chief of the Nixa Fire Protection District. “Because it started on the outside of the structure and they had some time to evacuate.”
According to an email from Ozark Fire Protection District, crews arrived to the scene in four minutes.
All 50 employees were evacuated from the building with no injuries, according the email.
The fire has been contained to the property, keeping other surrounding apartment buildings and structures safe.
“When I came outside, it was kind of scary,” says Marc Haswell, general manager of G&S Tech, Inc., a neighboring business. “I was wondering if the wind was going to shift and blow things this direction and take out our business as well. I never imagined, I never wanted to see anything like this. I’m sad it happened. These are very good people and great neighbors. It’s a tragedy.”
Weaver says evacuation was a possibility.
“There was initial concern with smoke and flying embers,” says Weaver. “There is an apartment complex and trailer park to the south. There were concerns and 911 calls about evacuation, however other than smoke, there was no need for that.”
Fire officials say they don’t know how the fire started at this time, but don’t believe it was intentional.
Industrial Wood Products is a pallet re-manufacturing and recycling company.