Charcoal is made to burn, but it's a recipe for disaster when a building filled with charcoal catches fire.
Firefighters from 10 local agencies worked into the morning hours Friday to extinguish a structure fire at a Salem-area business.
The fire, which officials say is one of the largest in Dent County history, was still under investigation as of press time Friday, said Chief Brad Nash of the Dent County Fire-Protection District.
Dent County firefighters were dispatched to the Royal Oaks charcoal plant just before 9 p.m. Thursday night, and with the help of other local agencies, worked until approximately 7 a.m. to bring the fire "under control."
City of Rolla Fire and Rescue, along with other fire departments from Phelps County — including the James Fire Department and the Rolla Rural Fire Protection District — were present to assist Dent County firefighters.
The fire destroyed more than half of the building, which was approximately 1,000 feet long and 200 feet wide.
"Luckily there was a fire wall in the center, and we were able to contain it and stop it right there, otherwise it probably would have had more problems than we actually had," Nash said.
The chief said the building was a storage facili0ty detached from the main offices used to store ready-to-ship products.A representative of Royal Oaks on Friday afternoon said no employees were injured and the company was "still assessing the damage."
The State Fire Marshal's office was also on the scene Friday afternoon to serve in an investigative capacity.
"We had two firefighters that sustained minor injuries — they got a little too hot — and were treated on the scene, but there weren't any serious injuries."
Nash says this is one of the biggest fires in Dent County history, with flames rising upwards of 60 feet into the air.
"I have been in fire services since 1994 and been the chief for 10 years, and this is definitely the biggest fire I have ever fought in my career," Nash said. "Charcoal piles that were left after the building came down ranged between 30 and 40 feet tall."
The complete list of agencies with manpower and fire apparatus on the scene includes Dent County, Jadwin, Lenox, Montauk, St. James, City of Rolla Fire & Rescue, Rolla Rural, St. Robert, Doolittle, and Steelville.