Criminal investigation closes on Mercer County house fire

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A criminal investigation has concluded regarding a fire on December 31 that destroyed a house in southeastern Mercer County, owned by Jose and Elizabeth Lopez. Jose Lopez serves as the sheriff of Mercer County.

Mike O’Connell, the Communications Director for the Missouri Department of Public Safety, reports that there was insufficient evidence to classify the fire as criminal. He states that the fire’s cause has been marked as undetermined.

Terry Purdy, the Acting Chief of Medicine Creek Fire Protection, had previously indicated that the fire’s cause was unknown. Sheriff Jose Lopez requested an investigation by both the State Fire Marshal’s Office and a division of the Highway Patrol.

Reports confirmed that Sheriff Lopez was not living in the house when the fire occurred, however, Elizabeth Lopez was residing there, although no one was present during the incident.

Chief Purdy reported that the house was completely engulfed in flames upon the firefighters’ arrival at the location southwest of Harris. He observed that most flames had been extinguished by the time Medicine Creek Fire Protection arrived.

The Galt Fire Protection District also assisted at the scene.

There were no injuries reported in the incident.

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