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Webb City Strip Mall Fire Deemed Suspicious - KOAM TV 7

Webb City Strip Mall Fire Deemed Suspicious

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WEBB CITY, MISSOURI - The Missouri state fire marshall and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agents  are helping to investigate a fire at the Madison Square strip mall in Webb City. The fire chief is also asking for help from the public to report suspicious activity in the area last night between 8:00pm and 9:00pm.

Fire officials ruled out natural and electrical causes early.  And with all the businesses damaged in some way and utilities cut, the impact is great. Ten of the eleven business spaces were occupied.. Five have heavy fire damage while five others have heat and smoke damage. And the shock is compounded by investigators calling the fire suspicious.

Jeff Montgomery who has a State Farm insurance office in the mall says, “It's been a great building for us but it was built mid '70s,  so its a little older. I really thought  it would be electrical. So to hear  that it might be something  different than that, is very disappointing and disheartening.”

A state farm insurance adjuster discusses removing carpet with

Montgomery who is an agent himself. Now he’s the fire victim.

Montgomery says, “This is what we do everyday.  We're here to help  people recover from the unexpected .” Now the unexpected happened to him.

 He and his wife Lisa check out damage to their offices' drop ceiling and roof, walls and furnishings used in their insurance business .

Dealing with disaster might be the nature of the MonMontgomery'ssiness but at least one business in the strip mall, Stitch Space  had just recently opened.

And for Dr. Festus Ndukwu, it’s not just his financial livelihood that's a concern. Dr. Ndukwu says, “We're looking, trying to look for an alternative place to take care of our patients and hopefully we'll be able to find that place soon.”

 Papa murphy's has at least seven employees . Some helping salvage supplies from what could add up to more than $75 thousand dollars in damage.

Owner Rob Dickerson says, “We’re gonna be closed for a while. Hopefully  we can transfer our employees to some fo our other stores  but there’s quite a bit of damage in there. We have to throw away all the food.”

“She made it!” exclaims Lisa Montgomery finding a statuette that was gift.

 Autographed memorabilia survived too. But the MontMontgomery'sk on the bright side.

 Jeff says, “It’s a little worse than what we had hoped but it’s not as bad nobody was here nobody was injured.”

Businesses close in Madison Square at 8:00 pm and  the fire was reported just after 9:00pm. And authorities are asking anyone who may have seen suspicious activity there to let them know.

    Firefighters worked six hours to put out the fire  which the chief says spread easily between businesses through a shared attic.

     Joplin and Carterville crews joined Webb City firefighters.

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