Firefighters worked well into Monday morning to contain a large shed fire in old Valmeyer.
The shed, and several vehicles stored inside, were completely destroyed.
Valmeyer Fire Chief Floyd Floarke said a Union Pacific train official called in the fire about 9 p.m. Sunday. Bill Dickerson’s shed is located near the railroad tracks in the 200 block of School Street next to his residence, which was spared from the destruction.
“It was already showing on several points,” Floarke told the Republic-Times. “The west side was glowing orange when we got there.”
A fire hydrant near the Dickerson home that dates back to before the 1993 flood had no water pressure, so firefighters trucked in water from Moredock Lake.
“We had some water issues at the very start, but in the end it wouldn’t have made a difference,” Floarke said. “It was a defensive operation from the start. We were just trying to save the house.”
Dickerson used his private shed to work on vehicles, Floarke said, adding that there were multiple Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Corvettes inside along with a monster truck, Jeep, a BMW and other cars.
“There were so many cars inside that I haven’t counted them all yet,” Floarke said. “There’s not much to save.”
The presence of fuels and ammunition inside made for a dangerous situation for firefighters in tackling the blaze, Floarke stressed.
“Our biggest problem was the compressed gases, along with ammo, tires and motor oil,” Floarke said. “There were so many different things in there, it was not safe to go in for fear of explosion or collapse.”
Floarke said the fire originated in the northwest corner of the shed nearest to the railroad tracks. A wood-burning stove is the chief’s “top suspect” in regard to a cause, but he said it was too difficult to determine for sure.
“It was so hot when we first got there. There wasn’t much we could do,” he said.
A monster truck, bus and other vehicles parked in front of the shed appear to have been saved.
Floarke said Dickerson was visibly upset by the tragedy. This newspaper’s attempt to reach Dickerson for comment on the fire was declined.
The Maeystown, Columbia and Waterloo fire departments assisted Valmeyer at the scene. Floarke said his department did not clear the scene until about 3 a.m. Monday.