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Nighttime blaze causes ‘significant damage’ to state building in Jefferson City

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Monday night fire caused “significant damage” to a government building that mostly housed Department of Social Services IT offices, officials said. 

Sources said no one was in the building at the time of the fire, and no injuries have been reported. 

Fire crews responded to the blaze Monday around 9 p.m. at 1621 E. Elm Street. 

Known as the Elm Building, the site was the workplace of about 100 employees of Office of Administration Information Technology Services Division (ITSD) and Department of Social Services (DSS) employees. The IT employees support DSS. 

Jefferson City Fire Department Chief Matt Schofield said the cause of the fire was yet to be determined. 

Schofield said a probe was underway from his department and the state fire marshal’s office, and it would take “a while” to investigate the cause of the blaze. 

“There was significant damage throughout the building,” Schofield told The Missouri Times. “At the time of our arrival, there were flames shooting from the roof. It was called in by drivers along Highway 50 — for them to see that and call it in and the time it takes for us to respond, the fire had a pretty good head start.” 

Schofield said the department was not aware of anyone in the building at the time of the fire. 

Representatives from the Office of Administration, Capitol Police, the Jefferson City Police Department, and Cole County EMS were also on the scene, Schofield said.  

The building was privately owned and leased to the state, according to Schofield.

“First and foremost, we are happy to report that no state team member, first responder, or citizen was hurt as a result of this fire,” Gov. Mike Parson said. “It is important for Missourians to know that state operations and services will continue uninterrupted thanks to our dedicated team members across state government who are stepping up to assist their teammates at DSS and ITSD.”

Robert Knodell, the acting DSS director, added those impacted by the fire will be provided resources in terms of work equipment as well as for personal health and wellbeing.

“Material items and equipment can be replaced, but our team is invaluable,” Knodell said.

A contractor will begin recovering and disposing of state equipment Tuesday, according to the Governor’s Office.

The Office of Administration is locating replacement equipment and alternate work locations for employees who worked in the building. 

This story has been updated. Cover photo provided by Emily Manley.