by: Scott McCaulley
Firefighters in two counties were kept busy with blazes on Monday:
-Two people died in a duplex fire on Travis Trail near Holiday Hills east of Branson. Western Taney County Fire Chief Chris Berndt tells Ozarks First that crews were dispatched to the scene around 5:45 pm and saw smoke and fire showing from the back side of the house. Firefighters pulled two people from the duplex on fire with one pronounced dead at the scene with the other taken to Mercy Hospital in Springfield were she later died. Two people in the adjoining duplex escaped without injury. The State Fire Marshall is investigating the cause of the blaze though firefighters at the scene the cause of the fire does not look suspicious. While the blaze was contained in around 30 minutes, firefighters did remain on the scene for several hours according to Ozarks First.
Taney County Coroner Tony Mullen later identified the victims of the fire as 90-year-old Elva Harpole, who died at the scene, and her daughter 70-year-old Lorene Ray who died at the hospital. Autopsies are scheduled for Wednesday to determine the manner and cause of death.
-Meanwhile earlier in the day, units from the Southern Stone County Fire Protection District were dispatched to a vehicle fire on Old Highway 160 south of Coon Ridge Road just before Noon. SSCFPD Public Information Officer Eric Nielsen says in a Facebook Post that the vehicle was a tractor belonging to the Stone County Road Department that was mowing the southbound shoulder off the road when the operator noticed the tractor started smoking then ignited into flames. Crews used foam to extinguish the fire and later used water mixed with foam to contain hydraulic fluid and diesel fuel that leaked from the tractor with the help of an Environmental Response team from Springfield.
The driver of the tractor escaped without injury.