By Pat Pratt
Daily Journal Staff Writer
PARK HILLS, Mo. — An electrical heating unit fire at Iron Mountain Lake City Hall caused minor damage to the building and severely damaged all of the toys and food items for the annual Iron Mountain Lake Children’s Christmas event.
The city is asking the community to help replace the Christmas items by making a donation. Toys, food, candy and snacks and personal hygiene items are also being sought. For more information, contact City Hall at 573-734-2042.
The fire was discovered by Iron Mountain Police Officer John Washburn at 5:45 a.m. Wednesday.
"I arrived about 5:45 and went to open the PD and a wall of smoke proceeded to meet me as I opened the door that connects PD and city hall, which was totally engulfed in smoke. There were no obvious flames so I immediately exited and got on the radio and notified dispatch," Washburn said.
According to Bismarck Fire Chief Steve Dickey, the fire was confined to the building and was the result of a heating unit malfunction. Electricity to the building was shut off. No one was injured in the incident. Bismarck was the first department on the scene and was assisted by Pilot Knob, Doe Run and Leadwood fire departments.
Although damage to the building was mostly from smoke and the building can be repaired, the biggest loss in the incident was several hundreds of dollars worth of children’s toys and other items, which were to be distributed to area families for Christmas.
"We've been doing this for about three years. It started out for a little boy who needed a Christmas tree, and I went and got one out of the woods," said Iron Mountain Lake Alderman Roger Stodgell. "Every year it's gotten bigger and bigger. If we didn't do this there would be a lot of hurt people."
The toy and food drive is administered by the Iron Mountain Lake Parks Board. Members of the community seek donations, food and toys to distribute to those who could use some assistance during the holidays. Organizers said they serve between 18-20 families.
"These gifts mean a lot. There are a lot of needy children out here, and we do it every year. We were all real excited. It means a lot to us, and we've been working really hard. We need all the help we can get," said Jamie Perry Park Board Secretary/Treasurer.
Several of the ladies on the Parks Board were almost in tears as they spoke about the destruction of the items they worked so hard to collect.
"Some of these kids, this is all they get. This is it. It's just so sad," said Park Board Member Pam Steinc.
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