LaBelle Home Destroyed by Fire, Young Family Lost Everything

By Echo Menges, The Edina Sentinel

LaBelle, MO – Saturday, October 17, 2020 – When a fire broke out near the front door of a LaBelle home early Saturday afternoon, the young couple living there and their nearly three-year-old toddler made it out of the back door unscathed.

“He said, ‘the house is on fire,’” said Alex Murphy, 22. “It was right by the front door. We couldn’t get out the front, so we went out the back and when we were coming around the house he was calling 9-1-1.”

Anthony Clay, 21, called for help as the young family made their way across the street to a neighboring house where they were helpless to do anything but wait for firefighters and watch their residence burn.

Emergency personnel from multiple agencies were called to the scene of the fire at 812 Main Street. The call went out at approximately 12:43 p.m. and emergency responders arrived to find the east side of the trailer home fully engulfed by flames.

The fire broke out near the front door of the home. Photo by Echo Menges

No one was in the residence when emergency crews arrived. Firefighters went to work running hoses and blasting water on the fire, which was being fanned by gusty heavy winds. Thirty minutes later, firefighters were still battling large flames as the fire spread from the east side to the west side of the residence.

“This was a wind-driven fire,” said Western Lewis County Fire Protection District (WLCFPD) Assistant Chief Robbie Walter. “And, the biggest problem any fire department faces is manpower. It’s hard to put out a fire when you’re dispatched with not enough people. I always call for mutual aid anymore.”

Three fire stations from the WLCFPD responded to the call, as did firefighters from the Newark/Plevna Volunteer Fire Department and the Knox City Rural Volunteer Fire Department. The Lewis County Ambulance District, Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol, and Ameren Missouri also sent emergency responders to the scene.

Firefighters from fire departments in Lewis County and Knox County battled the blaze for over an hour on Main Street in LaBelle, Missouri. Photo by Echo Menges

The heavy wind pushed thick smoke across the west side of LaBelle and the fire could be seen from Highway 6 just a few blocks away.

The structure was a total loss and the family living there lost everything they own in the blaze. They had been renting the residence for just over a year.

Displaced Family – Alex Murphy (red sweatshirt) and Anthony Clay (black and grey sweater) are shown talking to the WLCFPD Assistant Fire Chief Robbie Walter while their toddler plays with a toy truck in the driveway across the street from their burned-out rental home. Photo by Echo Menges

It is unknown how the fire started. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Anyone who wishes to donate to the family can bring donations to the Mt. Olive Baptist Church at 412 Main Street in LaBelle,  MO, or call Mt. Olive Pastor Salter at (515)778-3777.