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Elm building fire damage estimate at $2.5M; cause still unknown

A Monday evening fire at a state government building seen by passersby on Highway 50 is expected to have caused at least $2.5 million in damage, officials said Friday afternoon. 

However, additional estimated costs are still under review as officials work to determine if any equipment housed in the building is salvageable, the Governor’s Office said in a news release. A contractor began recovery and disposal work of the state-owned equipment in the building earlier this week.

The Missouri Division of Fire Safety and Jefferson City Fire Department delivered a report to state officials Friday and said the fire may have originated on the roof or in the attic. The cause of the fire was “undetermined.” 

Fire crews responded to the blaze at 1621 E. Elm Street Monday around 9 p.m. The building — which is privately owned and leased to the state — was the workplace for about 100 employees of the Office of Administration Information Technology Services Division (ITSD) employees which assisted the Department of Social Services. 

Fire officials previously told The Missouri Times no one was at the building when the fire began, and no injuries were reported. 

Investigators said fire damage in the interior of the building was from “fall down burning from the attic level,” according to the Governor’s Office. 

“Above all, we remain thankful that no one was injured during the Elm Street fire,” Gov. Mike Parson said Friday. “I could not be prouder of the dedicated public servants who have continued to serve Missourians in spite of these circumstances. Whether it is recovering from a tornado, fire, or navigating a global pandemic, our state team members remain committed to Missourians.” 

“I am very grateful that no one was harmed during this tragic event,” Ken Zellers, the acting Office of Administration commissioner, said. “Though I am saddened by the difficulties many of our teammates are experiencing, I’m grateful for how our state team members have responded, worked together as a team, and kept government operations and customer services from being disrupted.”

“This week has been a challenge for many of us, but it is inspiring knowing that we will overcome this obstacle together,” Zellers added. 

Cover photo provided by Emily Manley of Nexstar Media Group.