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SJFD battles weekend spike in house fires across midtown

Fire crews fought 4 fires throughout the weekend, the fire inspector for the department told KQ2 he normally sees about about half as many at the most.

Posted: Jan 3, 2021 11:45 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2021 7:22 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) It’s been a busy weekend for the St. Joseph Fire Department as crews spent the past two days battling multiple blazes across the city’s midtown area.

Firefighters said it started Saturday morning with a fire at a home in the 1200 block of Corby St.

According to SJFD, the fire stemmed from a domestic dispute. It re-kindled later in the day. 

Another house caught fire in the 500 block of N 19th St. early Saturday evening, no one was found to be inside.

Early Sunday morning, a second vacated house in the 1600 block of Locust St. was fully engulfed in flames.

Firefighters battled four fires across three different locations in one weekend. All four fires happened during a single shift of one of the department's fire inspectors. 

"I’ve been doing this 22 years," Steve Henrichson, SJFD fire inspector said. "It’s the most I’ve had in one day."

Henrichson said at most, he sees half as many calls in one day’s work.

There have been a number of fires across the city over the past month, though Henrichson said up until this weekend he had seen a lull in fire calls.

He says those without a place to stay are likely looking for shelter from the cold,

"Some of the homeless are looking for places to stay and looking for old vacant houses and things like that." Henrichson said. 

He added that the weather conditions are also likely contributing to the spike.

"This is of course the first really cold snap we’ve had with snow on the ground and everything else, he said. 

Henrichson said if the weather stays cold we could see more fires, and the best thing people can do to protect their homes and neighborhoods is to keep an eye out.

"The biggest thing is the neighbors," He said. "[If] neighbors see somebody walking around a house or going through somebody’s property that doesn’t belong there, [they should] call the police.

A family was displaced as a result of the house fire on Corby St., and is receiving help from the American Red Cross. No one else was injured in the other fires.  

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It was a snowy and cold day across the area with 2-6 inches of snow found across northwest Missouri and northeast Kansas. Temperatures will fall into the teens and single digits overnight. Be very careful on the roads Sunday morning, slushy and wet roads will refreeze with the cold temperatures overnight. Sunshine returns on Sunday with temperatures staying right around average in the mid 30s. Dry conditions look to continue into next week. Temperatures will warm through Tuesday with highs back in the 40s before a cold front moves through mid week dropping temperatures back into the teens and 20s.
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