Missouri Firefighter Ejected, Trapped in Rollover

LACLEDE COUNTY, Mo. -- An unprecedented five structure fires and a lightning strike occurred within a few hours Friday night and Saturday morning all over Laclede County as severe storms swept through the area.

In at least one case, lightning struck a garage on Crescent Drive in Lebanon, tearing a fist-sized chunk of concrete out of the floor and causing electrical damage, said Lebanon Fire Chief Sam Schneider Saturday.

No information about the causes of the other incidents was available to the Daily Record Saturday.

One firefighter was seriously hurt when a Lebanon Rural Fire Department truck overturned on Mo. 32 on the way to a call early Saturday morning, according to a media release from Lebanon Rural. The accident took place about three miles east of Nebo.

Mike Gardner, 41, was ejected from the truck and trapped underneath when it rolled over, said Lebanon Rural Lt. Alex Baker. Three other firefighters were trapped inside the vehicle.

All four firefighters were freed by other units responding to the same fire.

Gardner was transported by emergency medical services to St. John's Hospital-Springfield with serious injuries, according to a Missouri State Highway Patrol report. He remained there Saturday evening, according to a media release from Lebanon Rural.

The other three firefighters received minor injuries and were taken by EMS to St. John's Hospital-Lebanon, where they were treated and released.

"The roads were wet, and it was raining pretty heavily," Baker said Saturday. Baker said the fire truck driver said he was momentarily blinded by the headlights of an oncoming car.

The Nebo-Falcon mutual aid call came at about 4:30 a.m., Baker said, and the accident took place at about 4:55 a.m., according to the highway patrol report. The call was the third of the night for the volunteers of Lebanon Rural, Baker said.

"It was quite a night," he said.

The 2005 truck is estimated to be a total loss, the highway patrol report said.

The other incidents occurred in Lebanon, Hazelgreen, on Ripley Road off Route HH and on North Mo. 5 at Lilac Road, Ayres said.

Schneider said in his experience he couldn't remember a night when there were so many calls.

"We've had days when we had two house fires in the city, but I can't think of a time when we've had so many" in one night, he said.

Copyright 2008 by www.lebanondailyrecord.com

Republished with permission of The Lebanon Daily Record.

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