Crews fight fire at sheltered workshop

Update: Thursday, Feb. 2 at 3:53 p.m.:

Fire destroyed a Boonville sheltered workshop that serves more than 200 men, women and children with disabilities.

A maintenance man at Unlimited Opportunities, Inc. called 911 shortly before 8 a.m. on Thursday as flames began to consume a large section of the facility.

No one was hurt.

Boonville and Columbia firefighters fought flames in the recycling center area of the sheltered workshop. The facilityâ??s cardboard recycling center was hit the hardest. Investigators believe the fire could have started when a maintenance man turned on an overhead furnace near some bails of cardboard.

Boonville Fire Chief Tim Carmichael said, â??There was heavy smoke coming all the way along the side and out of the back when we got here. Within thirty minutes or so, the whole building was basically engulfed.â??

Firefighters used a bulldozer to remove what was left of the building to help prevent the fire from smoldering and restarting.

Sheltered workshop administrators tried to save everything they could out of their burnt building. They are planning on moving into temporary locations to keep things going.

The fire destroyed the facilityâ??s sheltered workshop, retail store and administrative offices. Workers saved some paper files, documents and computer hardware.

Executive Director Jennifer Waibel said, â??Once we have an organized effort, donations are going to be accepted. Monetary donations would be the most helpful. We do have insurance coverage, but I do know people want to help.â??

Investigators with the State Fire Marshalâ??s Office hope to determine the exact cause of the fire.

If you would like to make a donation to Unlimited Opportunities, Inc., you can call Jennifer Waibel at 660-537-5570.

Update: Thursday, Feb. 2 at 9:45 a.m.:

Firefighters said there was a small group of people in the building when the fire broke out, but there are no reported injuries.

Crews are still on the scene and witnesses said the smoke continues to billow from the building.

At this time, there is no determined cause.

Original Story:

Fire crews are on the scene of a structure fire in Boonville.

Police reports indicate the sheltered workshop, called Unlimited Opportunities, on West Ashley Road is on fire.

Crews were called to the building before 8:00 a.m. Thursday.

KRCG has a crew on the way to the scene and will have more information as it develops.

A viewer sent us a picture of what the building looked like around 8:30 a.m.