ST. LOUIS COUNTY • A retirement center under construction in south St. Louis County was gutted by fire early Wednesday.
No one was living at the facility at 4962 Mattis Road. The two-building complex east of Tesson Ferry Road, called Mattis Pointe, was scheduled to open this spring.
A neighbor reported the fire after seeing 40-foot flames coming from one of the buildings at the complex about 3:30 a.m. About 45 to 50 firefighters from Mehlville, Affton, Fenton, Crestwood and Webster Groves worked to put it out. More than five hours later, they were close to extinguishing the fire. A few hot spots remained.
Bomb and arson detectives will be investigating. Mehville Assistant Fire Chief Dan LaFata said it was “too early” to say if the fire was suspicious. He said there was “nothing to indicate” that an accelerant had been used to spread the fire.
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There were storms in the area about the time the fire was reported, and officials say it’s possible a lightning strike sparked the fire.
LaFata said Mehlville wanted assistance from the bomb and arson investigators due to “just the nature of the fire and the size of the fire.”
There were no reports of injuries in the three-alarm blaze. For safety reasons, crews chose to douse the flames using aerial ladders instead of battling it from inside the assisted-living center.
The owner of the building is Americare/South St. Louis LLC, according to St. Louis County’s Public Works Department. No occupany permits had been issued, according to Michael Moore, commercial building inspector for St. Louis County’s Code Enforcement Division.
A company representative for Americare, identified as Neal Slattery, could not be reached for comment. A woman who answered the phone at its corporate offices said no one was available to speak to a reporter.
When firefighters first arrived, they saw heavy fire coming from the back of the building, all in an attic space, LaFata said.
At 9 a.m., LaFata said, the few remaining hot spots were about to be under control, and the fire was no longer spreading.
LaFata said only one of the buildings was damaged.