A state fire investigator has said that the cause of a fire that heavily damaged a landmark business on Interstate 44 is currently undetermined, but an investigation remains open.
The three-alarm fire occurred early Sunday morning at Sandstone Gardens, a retail store of home furnishings, kitchen goods and garden statuary located near Loma Linda. Sixteen fire suppression units and 51 firefighters from eight agencies helped extinguish the blaze, according to information from the Redings Mill Fire Protection District.
"With the extent of the fire damage, it will be a little bit," said Deputy Ronnie Metcalf, of the Redings Mill Fire Protection District. "The insurance company is starting its process. It will probably be a week or better, but we'll continue to work toward an answer."
Firefighters with the district arrived on the scene close to 2 a.m. Sunday and found a fully involved fire. They remained on the scene for about 11 hours, spraying the flames with water from the outside as fire spread through the entire main building, according to a release from the district.
Fire departments that responded with mutual aid response included the Joplin Fire Department, Quapaw Nation Fire and EMS, Galena (Kansas) Fire Department, Seneca City Fire Department, Seneca Area Fire Protection District, Carl Junction Fire Protection District and Neosho Fire Department. The Newton County Ambulance District also responded, and law enforcement officers with the Joplin Police Department, Newton County Sheriff's Office and Missouri State Highway Patrol dealt with onlookers stopped along I-44.
"For our area, we see a fire of this size only once every few years," Metcalf said.
Investigators with the Missouri Division of Fire Safety will continue to investigate the fire, Metcalf said. No one was injured.
The business will close temporarily, according to a message on its Facebook page. It will have announcements on orders soon.
Located on 68 acres at 2826 Douglas Fir Road, the 50,000-square-foot building was opened in 2004, modeled after a turn-of-the-century estate. Owned by Max and Vicki Carr, it was a popular tourist stop — it also contained The Bistro restaurant and offered cooking classes.