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Fire of an undetermined origin destroyed the old Squires Store building south of Ava last Sunday night, adding to the concern of folks in that area.
The Squires community has seen an outbreak of fires in recent weeks, and no one is believing it is coincidence. For that reason, a reward of up to $5,000 is being offered by the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office through the Arson Hotline.
Anyone with information about the series of suspicious fires may call 1-800-39ARSON. Of course, information may also be given to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff Chris Degase said Wednesday that he has questioned individuals this week about the fires.
The store fire Sunday night is the latest of three recent fires that have destroyed abandoned structures.
The Laverne Isaacs house on County Road 305, just off Route P, burned on Saturday night, Jan. 14. Then on Wednesday, Jan. 18, the Arthur Porter house, also on CR 305 just up the road from the Isaacs place, was destroyed by fire.
Squires Volunteer Fire Department responded to both blazes but was unable to save anything.
In the past month, Squires Fire Department has been subjected to numerous fires including fields, brush, hay bales, and structures.
In addition, Sheriff Degase said Jerry Wagner’s school bus which was parked in Ozark County near Thornfield caught fire and burned, and an abandoned building at Toledo, in Ozark County, burned recently.
Bradleyville Fire Department reported that an abandoned residence in Taney County, northeast of the Brown Branch/McClurg area also burned last Saturday night.
It is unknown if a series of fires, some of them suspicious, in the Goodhope area may also be connected to the Squires fires.
Sheriff Degase said there was a report Tuesday night of someone setting fires in the Goodhope area and officers were able to get a description of the vehicle involved. The sheriff said officers are looking for a black, 2000s model Chevrolet S-10 single cab pickup. The truck has primer on the driver’s side rear quarter panel.
Anyone with information about this truck should call the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office at 683-1020.
The store fire at Squires last Sunday night was called in just before 6 p.m. and the Squires Fire Department immediately requested assistance from neighboring departments.
Wasola, Ava Rural and the City of Ava fire departments responded with trucks and personnel to assist Squires. The structure was totally involved when the first units arrived on scene and nothing could be saved.
Although the store has been closed for several years since the modern Spurlock’s General Store was built on “New” Highway 5, the building was being used for storage.
Sheriff Degase said Wednesday that there was no insurance on the building.