Fires and Small Towns

Here’s how you know you’re in a small town: when folks hear sirens, they turn out to see what has happened. I was struck by the bystanders giving the once-over to this gas station fire in Scott City.

I didn’t have a date for the fire, so I couldn’t find the story, if any, that went with the pictures.

This looks like the owner

Unlike the people who looked like plain old gawkers (I admit to being a professional gawker), this man has the look of someone who has lost his livelihood.

Did fire start at pumps?

I don’t know if the fire started at the gas pumps and spread to the building or vice versa. Seeing the damaged cars reminded me of something that happened in West Palm Beach in the early 1970s.

A fellow brought his brand-new Corvette in to the dealer for service. He demanded that they park it far away from any other car in the parking lot so it wouldn’t get dinged.

The service manager had it parked in the very back row of the lot. Right next to the FEC Railroad main line.

Yep, you guessed it. The FEC had a massive derailment that afternoon and dumped tons of railroad cars on top of the man’s precious Corvette.

Other fire and fire equipment stories

Pi Kappa Alpha’s fire truck

Scott City fire truck

1989 Idan-Ha Hotel fire

The lily pond behind Fire Station #1

An Ohio family watches their home die

Sikeston church destroyed by fire

Cape’s old Fire Station #2 on Independence

200 to 300 lives were lost when the steamboat The Stonewall burned near Neely’s Landing

Boy Scout Chuck Dockins rescues two girls from burning auto

Scott City fire photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery. Look for some things you don’t see any more: a AAA Emergency Service sign; a Public Telephone sign, and a horseshoe tacked above the door to the station (with the prongs pointing up to keep the good luck from spilling out).

10 Replies to “Fires and Small Towns”

  1. The physical evidence indicates the concentration of the fire was centered around gas pump #2 and the left front fender of the Ford. The position of the gas pump and the car indicate that the car must have struck the pump, severing the fuel lines and electricals causing an ignition source, and the presence of fuel combined with atmospheric oxygen resulted in the conflagration. It must have been one of those unintended acceleration incidents…

  2. Ken,
    You have a gift of being such a fine journalist and excellent photographer. You always had a knack for being at the right place at the right time with the right words and angles.
    The pictures of the fire are devastating, and I feel so sad for all involved.
    A smile came to my face when I looked over a bit of the Tigers song written by Mr. Shivelbine.
    I remember going into Shivelbines to get sheet music and other items.
    Too, I remember going to Osterloh’s to buy school supplies.
    Many of the store fronts on Broadway and on Main were very nice.
    Cape was a great town in which to grow up. If I go on with this, I will sound like an lady living in the past, talking about how good and simple things used to be.

  3. As best as I can determine (with the help of Google Maps Streetview) The address was 1705 Main Street, where Trax Edge Motors is now. According to hearsay-rumor the small building behind the car in image 8 was once used as the police dept/holding cell (again I’m not certain). The building appears to have only enough room to turn around in.

  4. For years it was known as Saveway Gas station & possibly it might have been run by Cliff Campbell (a one-time mayor of the Scott City) S. C. was made up of Fornfelt and Ancell (in 1960) In 1980 the town of Illmo was consolidated into Scott City as well.

  5. The gas station was CLIFF’S SAVEWAY! Cliff Campbell was the owner, my father! I hadn’t seen this pictures myself till today! The are great pictures. You had some comments, or questions about the man in the picture, that indeed was the owner , my father, and seeing the look on his face brought me to tears. I know all his facial expressions and I only saw it one other time when my mother died! You asked about how fire started? A local woman, Dot Wheeler was driving into the pump, to get gas when she lost control of her vehicle and struck pump 2 ! They said she hit ice patch and slid into the pump! There where other factors involved, but bringing them up won’t help anything! Police did not file charges, and laws against impaired driving were
    different then! After she hit pump my father got her out, and ran back inside saving his ledger and nothing else as fire engulfed building! Mr. Campbell opened a new station at different location in town. He later became mayor of Scott City for 8 years. Hope this helped, thanks for pictures. CLIFFORD RAY CAMPBELL

    1. Thanks for filling in the blanks. I’m sorry for your dad’s loss.

      Reminds me of a fire at a vendor my dad used. It burned up all their records. When I made a half-joking comment, “That’ll save you a bunch of money,” he gave me a disapproving look and said, “HE may not know how much money I owe him, but I do.”

      I was just a young boy, but I’ve never forgotten that look, nor the comment.

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