Everharts fire investigated as suspicious

Investigators continue to try to determine the cause of a weekend fire that damaged a recently closed business in Jefferson City.

Six Jefferson City Fire Department crews responded Saturday night to Everharts Outdoors, 2436 Missouri Blvd.

No injuries resulted from the fire, said Doug Strope, a JCFD assistant chief.

Strope said the fire was suspicious in nature and involved a high-dollar damage amount, two reasons for calling the state fire marshal’s office to investigate. No exact damage estimate was available, although Strope said the building was not destroyed.

"It's very possible the fire had been burning for some time before it was reported by a person driving by the store," JCFD spokesman Jason Turner said.

Turner said investigators from his department, the state fire marshal's office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) spent around 15 hours on the scene looking for possible clues on Sunday.

The lower level warehouse of the building had heavy smoke showing when crews arrived around 7:46 p.m. Saturday. Fire damaged the lower level, and smoke damage occurred throughout the building. Crews left the scene about 11 p.m.

The business, located near Staples on Missouri Boulevard, sold hunting and fishing equipment. It closed on Dec. 24. A going-out-of-business message was posted on its website in November. In part, it said: “It has been a rough year for the company with no end in sight.”

Turner said there was some merchandise still inside when the fire occurred, but none of that merchandise included firearms.

He added that they had been in contact with the property owner, but would not elaborate about what was discussed.

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