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by Mark Cheffey
Firemen had to battle the elements as well as the flames that destroyed the Dunkle’s Cabinetry building in Palmyra Tuesday morning.
The department was called to the scene at 6:43 a.m. and flames were already shooting out the roof when crews arrived.
Mutual aide was quickly called for and was received from the LaGrange Fire Department, Monroe City Fire District and Hannibal Fire Department.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” said Fire Chief Gary Crane.
And it was made more difficult by the elements with temperatures in the teens, a foot of snow on the ground and a stiff wind out of the north.
“It was an uphill battle from the start,” Crane said, noting the closest fire hydrant was frozen, rendering it useless, forcing the use of one in back of Brown’s Furniture.
That necessitated a fire brigade of tanker trunks going back and forth from the remote hydrant and the use of a portable water reservoir that had to be continually filled.
“You do what you have to do,” Crane said.
Efforts quickly changed from trying to save the brick structure to containing it as the whipping wind threatened to spread the fire to nearby homes on three sides.
Palmyra Police, who were the first on the scene managed to evacuate the homes occupants who had to watch nervously to see if the fire would be contained.
Crane credited not only his own crew, but the other responding departments as well for getting the fire under control.
Hannibal brought a ladder truck which allowed water to be sprayed from above.
The ladder truck was a big asset,” Crane said.
The fire was also made more difficult by the amount of stored wood and wood treating materials that helped fuel the flames.
Crane said Friday the state fire marshal who came to the scene and had not made a definite determination of the cause of the fire, was leaning toward the building’s heating system.
Nobody was in the building at the time, and no injuries were reported.
“A couple of firemen slipped on the ice but nobody was hurt,” Crane said.
A total of 24 firemen were on the scene with LaGrange bringing two trucks and seven firemen, Monroe City a truck and two firemen and Hannibal four firemen along with the ladder truck.
“You just call them up and tell them what you need,” said Crane of the mutual aid system.
Just week before, Palmyra responded to a call for mutual aid from Monroe City.
Crane was appreciative of other assistance including from the Palmyra Street Department which kept the street salted and also blocked traffic around the perimeter and from the Board of Public Works, which unhooked the building’s utilities.
Someone also provided sandwiches for the firemen who also received appreciation from the neighbors.
“One of the neighbors walked around and shook everybody’s hand thanking them for saving his home,” Crane said.
Palmyra firemen returned to the station at 1:15 p.m., but their work was still not done.
“We had to take all the equipment back to the station and clean it all up and all told, we put in an eight-and-a-half hour day,” Crane said.
Firemen were also called to the scene for a short time Friday after the fire rekindled.