WOOLDRIDGE, MISSOURI (AP) – Roughly half of a small Missouri town burned on Sunday after a wildfire spread quickly from a farm field and destroyed or heavily damaged 23 buildings, officials said.
No one died and only one person was taken to a hospital for an injury that was not life-threatening, but the entire town of Wooldridge had to be evacuated on Sunday because of the fire. The blaze was sparked in a field by a combine that was harvesting crops. A nearby stretch of Interstate 70 had to be closed for nearly two hours on Sunday evening because of heavy smoke.
Cooper County Fire District spokesman Jim Gann said that between 4.6 and 5.4 square miles burned before the fire was brought under control. Firefighters were working to keep hot spots under control with strong winds forecast in the afternoon.
Wooldridge is a town of less than 100 people about 32 kilometres west of Columbia along the Missouri River. Stephen Derendinger, an engineer with the Jamestown Rural Fire Protection District, said half the town is burnt.
“It’s devastated,” Derendinger said.
Firefighters saved the Wooldridge Baptist Church, Wooldridge Community Club and post office as they pumped water from swimming pools to help battle the blaze.