Rolla Fire and Rescue were dispatched to the Russell House at 3:57 p.m., Sunday afternoon, October 1 to control what has been described as a small grease fire in the kitchen.

Rolla Fire and Rescue were dispatched  to the Russell House at 3:57 p.m., Sunday afternoon, October 1 to control what has been described as a small grease fire in the kitchen.
“The fire was contained to the kitchen area,” said Chief Ron Smith. He explained the pan with the grease fire was put in the sink, which put the fire under the overhanging cabinets. The building has a sprinkler system which was activated and extinguished the fire.
“The water damage is extensive,” he said. “This happened on the first floor, so water damage extended down into the basement area. It severely damaged the sheet rock and false ceiling, so there was a lot of water damage to the building.”
“The cabinets were scorched and there was extensive smoke damage in the kitchen,” he explained.
Rolla Fire and Rescue firefighters helped to get the smoke out of the building and helped residents gather some belongings since staying at the Russell House was not an option, until cleanup and repairs can begin.

“There is significant water damage in some parts of the house,” said Randi Turntine, development and volunteer coordinator for Russell House, which offers emergency shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. “We had 53 residents in the shelter (28 women and 25 children ) and worked with the Red Cross to get them placed temporarily. We’re unsure at this point when we’ll be able to get back in.”
Turntine said the crises lines are still being managed 24/7, seven days a week. “We’re still able to work in this [crises] capacity—we just aren’t able to shelter anyone at this time,” she noted.
She said in a media statement that “We will work closely with other domestic and sexual assault shelters throughout the state to meet the needs of victims in our service area. We are thankful for the quick response from Rolla City Fire, neighboring shelters, the Red Cross, board members, and our staff members. The backbone of Russell House has always been the community support we receive, and last night was a perfect example of that. While this is a small bump in the road, our shelter will recover from this and continue to be a safe haven for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. All outreach offices in Phelps, Crawford, Maries, and Dent counties will remain open.”
“Also, we’re having a large event this Saturday night, the masquerade ball, and we want the public to know that it will continue to go on.

“Thankfully, the sprinkler system worked wonderfully—it extinguished the fire quickly,” said the Chief. “There were no injuries and the fire was not substantial—it won’t put them out of the shelter for more than a week or two at the most. Damage to the building was minimal, concerning the fire. It could have easily been more extensive, had the sprinkler system not activated.”
Chief Smith offered some advice, should a cook find themselves with a kitchen grease fire.
“We should all cook with a lid,” he said. “If grease ignites, put the lid on the pan and the fire goes out. Take it off the heat, let it cool and your fire is over.”
Chief Smith said another option is pouring baking soda on the fire. He says flour does not work.
“It’s a wood-based powder and it is also a gaseous powder, so it could cause the fire to grow,” he cautions.
A substitute to baking soda could be salt if there were no other options.
“[Having] a lid is the number one option, baking soda is number two,” he summarized. “Nine times out of ten [a grease fire] is lack of attention.