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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Austin HornbostelOnlookers watch as firefighters try to tame a fire, which burned for hours at a structure across the street from Putnam Chevrolet, last week.

A structure fire last week just outside California's city limits required the teamwork of firefighting agencies from around the county to tame.

Around 1 p.m. last Thursday, the California Fire Department (CFD) — and soon after, the California Rural Fire Protection District (CRFD) — responded to a structure fire across the street from Putnam Chevrolet, at a former construction shop previously owned by the late Robert Barry. Four hours later, thanks to helping hands that arrived from across the county, first responders began clearing the scene, with no injuries to bystanders or fire damage to neighboring structures.

California Fire Chief Allen Smith said the CFD got the call at around 1 p.m. and was on the scene five minutes later. Initially, Smith said CFD and the California Rural Fire Protection District were two of the first agencies paged, along with the Jamestown Fire Department soon after. The fire was technically in the CRFD's jurisdiction, Smith said, so his department was on the scene offering assistance; the pair has an automatic mutual aid agreement when responding to structure fires.

Along with the trio of departments first paged around 1 p.m., Smith said first responders with the Tipton Fire Department and the Regional West Fire Protection District were also on the scene. Smith said the Moniteau County Sheriff's Office also provided assistance with traffic control during and after the fire.

Emergency medical services were also on the scene throughout the fire, Smith said. EMS workers with Cole County, and later the Mid-Mo Ambulance District, were on standby in case firefighters needed medical assistance.

First responders commandeered a backhoe, courtesy of Gene Haile Excavating, to help access the building. Since the structure had metal siding, firefighters had trouble accessing the interior safely without taking out a wall, Smith said.

Smith said first responders utilized 1,000 feet of hoses, connected to water tankers, as they fought the blaze.

Smith said last week he was unaware of who the building's current owner is, though the structure was filled with the typical items one would see in a shop — heavy equipment and building materials, for example.

"The fire progressed real quick," Smith said. "The best that we can tell, what happened was Co-Mo Electric was there and they were restoring power to that building. When they restored the power, something went 'bang.' Something happened with the electrical, so it was electrical in nature."

The fire was right next to a residence, known colloquially as the "dome house," Smith said. That residence was evacuated and wasn't in danger of catching fire, though Smith said it was swarmed with smoke.

Smith said first responders began clearing the scene around 5 p.m.; the CRFD followed suit closer to 6 p.m. Typical of this type of fire, Smith said all that remained at that time were "hot spots," concentrated in piles of material that continued smoldering.

Smith said when community members call 911 to report a fire or other emergency, dispatch relays the information accordingly to whichever emergency services are needed. If more assistance is needed after first responders arrive on the scene, Smith said dispatch can always contact more agencies for help.

"But basically, the nerve center is the 911 center," Smith said. "That call comes in, and they have protocols they have that they follow through to determine what agencies should be dispatched. It might have to do with whatever district (the emergency is in), or the lead fire district or fire department or law enforcement, they page out accordingly."

Ultimately, Smith said getting the fire under control was a true team effort.

"I think one thing that's good that comes out of it is really the good working relationship with all the agencies involved," Smith said. "Everybody pulled together as a team and really did a good job of working together. I was really impressed that happenedThat's typically the case, it's just that we haven't been faced with that for a long time. This was just one of (those) calls where we were thrown into that situation where we needed help, and there was help out there and they came. I really want to thank all the other agencies involved."

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