MOUNTAIN GROVE, Mo. – Investigators were back in Mountain Grove to investigate a fire that happened in late July.
“Yesterday was the fifth week since the fire Tuesday at 12:18 p.m,” Matteo’s Owner Matt Brown said.
The fire impacted the Event Center, Matteo’s, The Word of Faith Life Church, and the Stone Cottage and Bakery. Pastor Kevin Jenkins said the square was home to the church for 5 years.
“The time and the sweat that you put into the building because we were still remodeling a lot of it,” Jenkins said.
For now, the church is operating at the Pleasant Hill Church off of Highway AM.
“We’re probably looking over a year before we can ever get back into two years,” Jenkins said “It’s going to take a lot of time to get it all back and get it where we can come back into the building. We were actually running out of room. Now we can actually build a little more room and a little bigger.”
One of the buildings still standing is Matteo’s. It opened in May 2021.
“I was cooking lunch like normal,” Matteo’s Owner Matt Brown said. “It was lunch rush. I had a few patrons in eating. Something sounded like a loud explosion and then the power went out. We noticed some dust and smoke over our building. I ran outside to make sure everyone was safe and secure. That was the main goal to get every body out safe. Then, we contacted the fire department and the police.”
The wall between the Event Center and Matteo’s is leaning into the dining space.
“They can’t tell us what we can do because if we open up with people inside and the wall falls, that’s going to jeopardize somebody’s life and I’m not about that,” Brown said.
Each building has its own insurance company, which comes with its own investigators. Right now, it’s just a waiting game for every involved.
“The public has been really disheartened over it,” City Administrator Tim Schook said. “They hate to see it. Especially a lot of the folks my age. When they were kids, they remember getting their shoes at Dryer Shoe store. Even though it wasn’t Dryer Shoe store anymore it’s the idea that there’s iconic buildings there and historical buildings there.”
The city hopes investigators will finish their work fast so the square can feel alive again. The city also hopes the buildings will be torn down and cleaned up before winter. For now, Mountain Grove has been working on it’s immediate future.
“We have a lot going on in the downtown area,” Schook said. “Interested buildings, buildings selling, businesses starting up which is a new breath of air.”