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MAN SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS AFTER ADMITTING TO LIGHTING GROCERY STORE ON FIRE

November 4, 2015 - KMOV

ST. LOUIS, MO. - A St. Louis man has been sentenced to five years imprisonment after admitting to lighting a fire inside the Ferguson Supermarket, Inc. last year after the night the grand jury announcement was made by Robert McCulloch.

Antonio Whiteside, 26, pled guilty to one count of attempted arson in April.

In surveillance video from inside the store, Whiteside is seen spraying several boxes with lighter fluid and starting a fire, according to police. After the fire begins, an unknown man uses milk to put the flames out. Whiteside's lawyer said his client got scared and told someone to put the fire out.

"He is a decent kid that got caught up in the emotion and mob-type action, which we know about in this country what happens with mob activity and he got caught up with that, that's pretty much it," Rodney Holmes, Whiteside's attorney, said.

Whiteside had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and St. Louis County police had been working together since the rioting on Nov. 24, 2014.

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COMMITTEE FORMED TO INVESTIGATE NIXON'S FERGUSON ACTIONS HASN'T MET IN MONTHS

July 28, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Alex Stuckey

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. - Republican legislative leaders lambasted Gov. Jay Nixon for his Ferguson-related decisions last year, saying he made a difficult situation a "disaster," and they activated a committee to investigate him.

The committee came with a promise to collect records and examine why Nixon did not send in the National Guard to save burning Ferguson businesses after the grand jury announced that former police Officer Darren Wilson would not face criminal charges in the fatal shooting Aug. 9 of unarmed teen Michael Brown.

Yet the Joint Committee on Government Accountability has met just twice since December.

Committee chairman Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said he had encountered difficulty coordinating the schedules of committee members and would like everyone to be present at each meeting.

That's why he is shooting for a September meeting, he said.

"Things have quieted down," Schaefer said. "There's no real immediacy" because legislative recommendations can't be made until lawmakers are in session, he said.

"An accurate historical reflection of what happened" will be gained whether a meeting is held now or later in the year, he said.

But Rep. Karla May, D-St. Louis, said she wasn't surprised by the inactivity. The committee was simply a political statement from the beginning, she said.

"They haven't done anything because there wasn't anything behind it," she said. "It was just party politics."

Nixon had declared a state of emergency in advance of the grand jury's decision. He said then that "violence will not be tolerated" and that St. Louis County police would be in charge in Ferguson, with the National Guard deployed to assist them.

But after the November announcement that Wilson faced no charges, shots rang out, fires engulfed police cars and businesses burned on West Florissant Avenue and South Florissant Road. The National Guard stayed away. Nixon later said that officers sacrificed property in order to save lives.

GOP legislative leaders initially called for hearings after Nixon, a Democrat, announced he would call a special session in December in an attempt to appropriate emergency funding for the increased presence of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and National Guard. He backed off this idea after a legislative analysis showed there was sufficient money to fund the two entities.

Still, legislators decided to move forward, meeting briefly in December to launch the investigation.

Schaefer held a second meeting in February, where St. Louis County fire district officials told the committee that they had been promised protection from the Missouri National Guard if protests turned violent. It wasn't until the day of the grand jury announcement that they were informed that wouldn't be the case.

As a result, firefighters abandoned their hoses and left buildings burning when gunfire and looting erupted that night in the aftermath of the grand jury's decision.

At that same February committee meeting, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said he was unable to get the National Guard to help control the chaos that night. He said he tried to contact two members of the governor's staff, Jason Zamkus and Peter Lyskowski, but couldn't reach them.

The committee was established in 2004 to study "inefficiencies, fraud and misconduct in state government." It is made up of seven senators and seven House members.

By law, the committee is supposed to meet at least four times a year and submit an annual report to the Legislature each January.

Committee Vice Chairwoman Rep. Kathie Conway, R-St. Charles, said she wished the meetings were more frequent.

"I don't know what Schaefer's schedule is like, and I don't want to second-guess him," she said. "I wish there had been more .... (but) I assume he's doing all he can."

Without another committee meeting, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said, he may never disclose details about how and when he learned the National Guard would not help Ferguson.

"I don't want to get into a situation of dueling depositions," he said.

Belmar says he had asked for and had been promised that the National Guard would be in Ferguson in whatever fashion he saw fit the night of the grand jury announcement, contrary to the recollection of the National Guard and Missouri State Highway Patrol previously reported by the Post-Dispatch.

Belmar said that he was told Oct. 30 that the Guard would be available to help police protect the town from looters and arsonists, but that, "sometime between 10 and 15 days later" that plan changed. He said he was told the Guard would not be in Ferguson after all and that the Ferguson police department would take the lead there.

He did not inform the public that the Guard would not be in Ferguson as soon as he learned it because, he said: "Tactically, that wouldn't be a good thing to say."

Business owners in Ferguson told the Post-Dispatch that St. Louis County officers had told them soldiers would be there to protect their businesses, and, in at least one case, told them not to board up their properties.

Though the committee has not yet requested Belmar or Nixon to appear, Schaefer said he hoped that "any witnesses the committee requests to testify choose to appear voluntarily."

Committee member Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said the Legislature had dropped the ball, both with this committee and measures passed in response to Ferguson.

"I can say that we brought people in and heard testimony, but the question is where do we go from there, and I haven't seen that yet," she said.

Christine Byers of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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FIRE GUTS KITCHEN OF FERGUSON BREWING COMPANY


A fire damaged the Ferguson Brewing Company on South Florissant Road on Friday, June 19, 2015. Photo by Kim Bell, kbell@post-dispatch.com

June 19, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Kim Bell

FERGUSON - The Ferguson Brewing Company was damaged by a fire that started in the kitchen overnight.

An owner, Joe Lonero, said he didn't know when he might reopen.

Ferguson Assistant Fire Chief Steve Fair said a fluorescent light left on in the kitchen area caught fire. A police officer driving by the restaurant, at 418 South Florissant Road, saw smoke and reported the fire at 6:21 a.m.

Crews from the fire house two blocks away saw smoke across Florissant Road. Black smoke was pouring from the building and soon after the fire commander circled the brick building there were flames coming from a side door and window, Fair said.

The one-alarm fire was brought under control in about 10 minutes.

The kitchen was gutted, but the fire didn't reach the second floor banquet room, Fair said. The rest of the business had water and smoke damage. Twenty firefighters from four departments helped fight the fire. No one was injured.

Fair estimated the building is about 100 years old.

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY MAN ADMITS ATTEMPTED ARSON OF FERGUSON MARKET


Police released this image of a suspect wanted for setting fire to a Ferguson business on Nov. 24, 2014.

April 24, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Robert Patrick

ST. LOUIS - A man from St. Louis County pleaded guilty to a federal charge Friday and admitted trying to set fire to the Ferguson Market on Nov. 24, during looting sparked by the announcement of the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown killing.

Antonio Whiteside Jr., 26, admitted that he was in the market while it was being "looted," and that he used a lighter and an accelerant to start a fire. In court, Whiteside lawyer Rodney Holmes said that Whiteside used lighter fluid.

A woman eventually put out the fire and kept the market from burning down.

Holmes said that Whiteside was not a danger to the community and should be allowed to stay out on bond until his sentencing hearing, currently set for July 23.

Homes said Whiteside's only prior criminal case was a misdemeanor marijuana charge during college, for which he received a suspended imposition of sentence.

"It appears that he got caught up in the moment with the wrong group of people," Holmes said of Whiteside later in the hearing, "given the tension of the moment."

That brought a response from Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Mehan, who said that Holmes' statement shouldn't mitigate "setting fire in a looted building."

The market, at 9101 West Florissant Avenue, was looted amid protests over the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the death of Brown. The Ferguson Market was where Brown allegedly committed a strong-armed robbery shortly before he was fatally shot by Wilson.

The plea says that the arson was caught on tape. In December, St. Louis County Police circulated a picture of a man squirting what appeared to be lighter fluid on the floor of the market.

Whiteside could face up to 10 years in prison for the crime of attempting to damage or destroy using fire, but Holmes estimated that Whiteside would face roughly three years under federal sentencing guidelines.

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MAN CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTING TO SET FERGUSON MARKET ON FIRE


Photo by St. Louis Post Dispatch

February 13, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

FERGUSON - A federal grand jury has indicted a man for trying to set fire to the Ferguson Market on Nov. 24, the night it was announced that officer Darren Wilson would not face any charges in the killing of Michael Brown.

The indictment, which was made public Thursday, alleges that Antonio Whiteside "maliciously attempted to damage and destroy, by means of fire and explosive materials" the Ferguson Market at 9101 West Florissant Avenue.

Whiteside was in custody Thursday night.

"The St. Louis (County Police) Bomb and Arson Unit and agents with ATF have been working on multiple criminal investigations in the aftermath of the Ferguson rioting," said U.S. Attorney Richard G. Callahan. "This indictment is but one result of that collaboration, which is an ongoing effort and I expect will produce additional indictments at both the state and federal level."

In December, St. Louis County Police circulated a picture of a man squirting what appeared to be lighter fluid on the floor of the market. Callahan would not comment beyond what was in the indictment.

A woman eventually put out the fire and kept the market from burning down. Although the market was looted and damaged, it remains standing. Several other businesses in the area were completely destroyed.

The Ferguson Market was where Brown allegedly committed a strong-armed robbery shortly before he was fatally shot by Wilson.

The decision by a St. Louis County grand jury to not indict Wilson sparked widespread protests, along with looting and arson in the days that followed.

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EDITORIAL: THE NIGHT FERGUSON BURNED: NIXON OWES PUBLIC ANSWERS

February 13, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By the Editorial Board

In comparing Ferguson to Kent State, Gov. Jay Nixon seeks to free himself from the burden of governing.

On Wednesday night, a joint House-Senate committee of the Missouri Legislature led by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, opened hearings into the events of Nov. 24. That night, after a St. Louis County grand jury refused to charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, rioters torched more than 18 buildings in Ferguson and Dellwood.

The stated purpose of Mr. Schaefer's hearings is to get to the bottom of this question:

Why, after having called out the National Guard a week earlier to prepare for potential violence, did Mr. Nixon have soldiers well posted in Clayton and St. Louis, but not in Ferguson, where nearly all of the looting, rioting and arson took place?

We suspect Mr. Schaefer, who is running for attorney general and who has turned criticizing Mr. Nixon into a full-time job, is more concerned with scoring political points than getting answers that will help Missouri learn from the decision-making that took place that fateful night.

But the fundamental question is a fair one. To the minimal extent that Mr. Nixon has answered it, he has suggested - without offering any details - that property was sacrificed to save lives.

At a news conference in his Capitol office on Wednesday, Mr. Nixon invoked Kent State in suggesting that the end result was better on the night of Nov. 24 precisely because the National Guard wasn't sent into Ferguson during the heat of the unrest:

"But I think when this is looked at, the discipline that was shown there, we are talking about what tactically should've been done and what buildings were damaged. It's a lot better than the discussion after Kent State," he said. The reference was to fatal shootings of four students by Ohio National Guard troops at an antiwar protest in 1970.

History may prove that true, but to get there, we first have to hear from Mr. Nixon and his administration about how the decisions were made that night. This is a basic question of government accountability during a state of emergency that is perhaps the most significant event that has occurred under Mr. Nixon's watch.

More than two months later, we don't know who decided the National Guard should stand down and why. Was it a joint decision by the unified command? Was it Adjutant General Steve Danner? Was it Missouri Highway Patrol Superintendent Ron Replogle, who, coincidentally, announced his resignation the day Mr. Schaefer's hearings began? Was it St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar? The White House? Was it Mr. Nixon himself?

Why were firefighters assured before that night that they'd have protection from the guard only to find themselves without support while trying to put out the fires? Why wouldn't Mr. Nixon accept a phone call from Ferguson Mayor James Knowles?

There is nothing unreasonable about these questions. But Mr. Nixon has stubbornly refused to answer questions about the important decisions made by him or his underlings. That refusal is particularly vexing now that he seems to want credit for saving lives.

You want credit? Tell us what happened.

Indeed, the Kent State comparison is interesting in that nearly 45 years after that awful May afternoon, there are still questions about what actually happened, even after several state and federal investigations. Just three years ago, four of the wounded survivors of Kent State asked the federal government to reopen an investigation, suggesting an enhanced audio recording contains evidence that guard commanders ordered troops to fire on protesters.

Likewise, Ferguson will be studied for years, and the question is a similar one: Who ordered the guard to stand down? The historical record will be important for future conflicts in Missouri and elsewhere. So why won't Mr. Nixon just tell us exactly what happened and who made the decisions? The longer he waits, the murkier the historical record will become.

In refusing to offer any substantive answers to what happened that night, Mr. Nixon has fed into conspiracy theorists who seek to divide along partisan or racial lines.

Days before the grand jury decision was reached, Mr. Nixon stumbled badly when asked by reporters who was ultimately responsible for keeping the peace in Ferguson. "I have to say I don't spend a tremendous amount of time personalizing this vis-a-vis me," he said at one news conference, before settling on "the buck stops with me" at another stop.

Well, Mr. Nixon, does it or doesn't it?

It is time for the governor to get beyond his political differences with Mr. Schaefer - justified as some of them are - and tell the public precisely what happened on Nov. 24. Give us a timeline. Tell us who made what decisions.

Let the historical record speak for itself.

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COMMITTEE BLASTS NIXON IN FIRST HEARING ON FERGUSON DECISION MAKING


Photo by Missouri Times

February 12, 2015 - Missouri Times

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. - (exerpts from article) Missouri lawmakers gathered to conduct their first meeting on Gov. Jay Nixon's handling of the months of unrest in Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown in a hearing that quickly reveled a chaotic decision-making process and entirely broken lines of communication between first responders and elected officials.

Lawmakers took issue with Nixon's decision making that night after it became clear that the Missouri National Guard was not deployed into Ferguson on the night of Nov. 24 - when a grand jury decided not to charge Officer Darren Wilson in Brown's shooting - until after 2am, well after several business were either burned down or heavily looted. Lawmakers have blamed Nixon for the destruction, suggesting that marching National Guard troops into Ferguson may have quelled the violence.

Greg Brown, Chief of the Eureka Fire District, and Matt LaVancy, Assistant Chief of Pattonville Fire District, both testified to the committee that they had originally been assured that they would have the protection of local law enforcement when putting out protest-related fires. The two laid out their own list of problems from that night.

"I watched much of this unfold on television like a lot of you in the Unified Command Center," Brown said, saying he wasn't able to deploy firefighters for lack of promised "force protection."

Firefighters in Ferguson repeatedly were forced away from fires after looters began firing guns in the vicinity. According to Brown, multiple requests were made to deploy the National Guard to protect the firefighters. No such deployment took place and, ultimately, firefighters were forced to "drop hoses" and leave.

"It goes against everything we've trained for," LaVancy said of abandoning an active blaze.

Brown told committee members that, as a direct result of the events in Ferguson, firefighters in certain parts of North County will don body armor under their gear when responding to certain calls, something he said he'd "never imagined."

LaVancy told the committee that, at one point, firefighters retreated from Sam's Meat Market in Ferguson due to danger to their lives. LaVancy said firefighters could see a man trapped inside the building when they were forced to leave, but were unable to remain behind and help.

"I think we're all floored by that," said Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, who chairs the committee.

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FIREFIGHTERS TELL MISSOURI LAWMAKERS THAT THEY COULDN'T FIGHT FERGUSON FIRES UNPROTECTED


Police arrest a man for looting Phillips 66 Energy Express at 1403 Chambers Road on Nov. 24, 2014. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatchc.com

February 12, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Virginia Young

JEFFERSON CITY - Two fire district officials from St. Louis County said Wednesday that they had been promised that the Missouri National Guard would protect firefighters called to Ferguson if protests turned violent last fall.

But they learned otherwise when fire district leaders arrived at the emergency operations center on Nov. 24 to prepare for a long-awaited grand jury announcement.

"That's when we were told they weren't able to get the Guard," said Greg Brown, chief of the Eureka Fire District.

As a result, firefighters abandoned their hoses and left buildings burning when gunfire and looting erupted that night in the aftermath of the grand jury's decision that former police Officer Darren Wilson would not face criminal charges in the Aug. 9 shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown.

"To me, that was the most heartbreaking thing of all of it," said Matt LaVanchy, assistant chief of the Pattonville Fire District. "We wanted to help that community."

The fire officials told their stories Wednesday night to a joint legislative committee that is investigating the way Gov. Jay Nixon's administration handled the protests in Ferguson.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia and chairman of the Joint Committee on Government Accountability, said abandoning a plan to protect firefighters was "just unbelievable. I know any firefighter having to put down a hose and leave like that must be extraordinarily difficult."

The committee also heard Ferguson Mayor James Knowles describe his unsuccessful efforts to get the National Guard to help control the chaos that night. He said he tried to contact two members of the governor's staff, Jason Zamkus and Peter Lyskowski, but couldn't reach them.

Knowles said he reached Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Attorney General Chris Koster and State Treasurer Clint Zweifel but "none of them were able to make contact" with the governor's office that night.

Earlier Wednesday, Nixon held a news conference in his Capitol office and strongly defended his handling of the Ferguson situation as he announced a change in command at the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Nixon announced that Col. Ron Replogle will retire May 1 after 31 years with the patrol, the last five as its superintendent. Replogle said he wanted to spend more time with his family. Nixon said he will nominate Maj. Bret Johnson, commander of the patrol's Bureau of Field Operations, as the next colonel. The appointment requires Senate approval.

In Ferguson, "over the course of four months, the men and women of the highway patrol often worked night and day, away from their families to protect citizens' right to speak and to keep people safe," Nixon said.

"It was hard, thankless work under the most difficult conditions, which they performed with the courage and selfless resolve that we have come to expect. As a result, not a single person was killed in the unrest in Ferguson," he said.

Nixon had declared a state of emergency in advance of the grand jury's decision. He said then that "violence will not be tolerated" and that St. Louis County police would be in charge in Ferguson, with the National Guard deployed to assist.

But after the announcement on Nov. 24 that Wilson faced no charges, shots rang out and businesses burned on West Florissant Avenue and South Florissant Road. Nixon later said that officers sacrificed property in order to save lives.

He repeated that position on Wednesday, defending the decision not to deploy National Guard troops along the Ferguson-area business corridors in advance of the looting and arson. Instead, he chose to allow St. Louis County Police officers, trained under the Peace Officer Standards and Training program, to handle the initial wave of rioting.

"The theory here and the practice was that people who had been on the front edge of this, literally getting yelled at, getting things thrown at them, getting called a lot of names, that those POST-certified officers were the people to be in front," Nixon said.

"None of us are happy that there were shots fired," Nixon told reporters. "None of us are happy that there were buildings burned down. This wasn't a joyful time for anybody.

"But I think when this is looked at, the discipline that was shown there, we are talking about what tactically should've been done and what buildings were damaged. It's a lot better than the discussion after Kent State."

In May 1970, the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of Kent State University demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine.

Schaefer said the joint legislative committee had requested various documents from the governor's office and would hold additional hearings.

The panel is made up of seven senators and seven House members. It was established in 2004 to study "inefficiencies, fraud and misconduct in state government."

During Wednesday's hearing, some legislators quizzed Knowles about whether he thought Nixon withheld the Guard's help on Nov. 24 because officer Wilson and Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson did not resign. (Wilson later resigned, after the grand jury decision.)

Knowles said "a pretty long list" of people had sought the chief's resignation. But he said the governor's office did not make such a request "to me directly or indirectly."

Knowles said he learned several weeks before the grand jury decision that the guard "would not be present in the city of Ferguson. I was told that was a decision made by the governor." Knowles said he was told the guard would be available "if things got out of hand."

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar gave him that news, Knowles said.

"He could not give me a reason why."

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FERGUSON AND THE FIRE SERVICE


Photo by St. Louis American

January 15, 2015 - St. Louis American
By Addington Stewart, Guest columnist

The South Central Region of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters has been working to address the economic issues of blacks in the fire service throughout metropolitan St. Louis. We wholeheartedly support the peaceful protesters who are exercising their rights to protest and free speech. We continue to pray for the family of Michael Brown Jr. during these trying times in our quest for justice to be served. But we believe that economic issues are at the crux of the protests in Ferguson.

We are an international group of black retired and active firefighters organized to create a liaison between our black brothers and sisters throughout the world. We collect and evaluate data on all deleterious conditions in all areas where minorities exist, and compile information concerning the injustices that exist in the application of working conditions in the fire service, and implement actions to correct them.

We seek to promote interracial progress throughout the fire service and to see that competent blacks are recruited and employed as fire fighters, wherever they reside. We also aid in motivating our black brothers and sisters to seek advancement to elevated ranks throughout the fire service.

As the director of the South Central Region - one of seven regions in the international, which presides over eight states (Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas and Louisiana) - I am charged with investigating the issues of the lack of diversity in St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis.

Diversity in the nation's fire service is a matter of national security in today's fire departments. We need to understand how the lack of diversity can impact our communities so that we stop situations across the country like the one in Ferguson. Ferguson has approximately 27 fire service personnel, yet only two blacks in a city that is 65 percent black.

We have started the process of requesting demographic information related to the hiring of blacks in the 42 fire districts of St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis. We will review the census data as it relates to the make-up of each of those communities, the demographics of those departments, the plans to diversify fire departments, and requests for federal grants that they have received over the last five years. We will also look at the number of black new hires in the last five years and a percentage of total new hires.

The fire service offers great public safety jobs, which can give a young man or women the opportunity to earn a minimum of $1.5 million over a 30-year career. These jobs give them the opportunity to support their families and move into the middle class.

We are working to remove all of the barriers that are in place that prohibit departments from hiring black youth in the metropolitan area. Our focus is on ending discriminatory testing processes; obtaining funding to recruit, train and retain black youth in area fire departments; and mentoring and supporting candidates in the application and hiring process to ensure that there are well-qualified candidates to compete for these jobs in the communities in which they live.

Because of the focus on Ferguson, cities across the country are looking to see how they can diversify their police departments so they look like the communities they serve. We feel that the fire service must be included in these equations also.

Addington Stewart is director of the South Central Region of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters (www.iabpf.org).

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FIREFIGHTERS SAY GOVERNOR DIDN'T PROTECT THEM

December 11, 2014 - KSDK By Farrah Fazal, KSDK

FERGUSON - The flames burned for hours on the night of November 24th. it was the night Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced the grand jury decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown.

Firefighters trying to battle those blazes said, "When the emergency calls came in during the protests on November 24, Governor Nixon failed to deliver on his promise to protect the community and firefighters with National Guard troops. Governor Nixon's failure meant firefighters were not dispatched in many circumstances to save businesses and homes in locations where protests turned violent with increased danger. Where firefighters were dispatched to do their jobs, in a number of cases they were attacked and gun fire was present at the scene, and they had to abandon their hose lines and equipment to take cover."

The president of the International Association of Firefighters Mark Woolbright was not available to do an on-camera interview with us but he said, "Governor Nixon turned his back on fire fighters when it mattered most - when they were needed to help save areas of the Ferguson and adjoining communities from further damage. It turned out that the governor's words were nothing more than empty promises and pathetic political posturing of the worst kind. As a result, fire fighters were often found in unsecured and dangerous positions. Because of such, the normal risk of firefighting was taken to an all new heightened level. It was extremely unfortunate the Ferguson community citizens and business owners of Ferguson were left with little or no fire protection, leaving nothing more than ashes and tears from their measurable loss."

At least 25 businesses were on fire that night. Senator Jamilah Nasheed is on the Government Accountability Committee of the state Legislature, which meets on Thursday. She said she will ask the other members to investigate the governor's decision on that day and where the National Guard was while criminals were lighting homes, businesses and cars on fire.

Statement from the governor's office--

The Governor appreciates the bravery and dedication of the hundreds of law enforcement officers, guardsmen and fire fighters who worked tirelessly to protect the public in a very difficult, dangerous and volatile situation in Ferguson that night.

From the beginning, the plan developed and executed by the unified command was to have the Guard stationed in support roles at places like fire houses, police stations and power substations so that experienced law enforcement officers could be out policing protest areas. That night, more than 700 guardsmen were deployed to nearly 100 locations around the St. Louis region, including at the Ferguson Command Post. There were also nearly 500 law enforcement officers, including 150 state troopers, in Ferguson.

The Governor has said repeatedly that the violence and destruction seen that night was unacceptable and that he will be working with those businesses every step of the way to help them rebuild. But the fact that no citizens, law enforcement officers or fire fighters lost their lives is a testament to the hard work and professionalism of the men and women who worked day and night to protect the public.

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ATF RECEIVES SOME LEADS INTO FERGUSON ARSON

December 9, 2014 - KMOX By Kevin Killeen (@KMOXKilleen)

FERGUSON - The feds report they are getting some leads from a reward offered to help solve a rash of arson the night the Ferguson grand jury decision was announced.

With more than 20 fires set that night, including one at the Flood Christian Church in Ferguson, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reports it has received several videos from businesses in the area and via the tips line.

"And all of that is very beneficial," says John Ham, spokesman with ATF.

"Even if it's just word of mouth, that somebody has started one of these fires, or was associated with one of these fires in any way, that's information that we would be interested in having," he says.

The reward for information leading to an arrest is $10,000.

The number to call with tips is 1-888-ATF-FIRE.

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REWARDS OFFERED FOR FERGUSON, DELLWOOD ARSONS

December 8, 2014 - KTVI BY ASSOCIATED PRESS

FERGUSON - The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering rewards up to $10,000 for information leading to arrests in the intentional fires set after the grand jury announcement in the Ferguson police shooting.

The ATF announced the rewards Friday. The agency singled out the arson at Flood Christian Church in nearby Country Club Hills. The father of police shooting victim Michael Brown Jr. was baptized at the church one day before the November 24 grand jury announcement.

Bomb and arson units from St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis, as well as investigators from the Missouri Highway Patrol, are assisting the investigation.

Federal investigators ask members of the public with video or photographic evidence or other information to email them at Fergusonfires(at)ATF.gov

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FIREFIGHTERS SAY GOV. NIXON PUT THEM IN DANGER AFTER GRAND JURY DECISION

December 5, 2014 - KTVI BY CHRIS HAYES

FERGUSON - A fire fighter union says lack of leadership put fire fighters at risk on the night of the Darren Wilson grand jury decision. They say it resulted in some businesses burning while fire fighters watched powerlessly. The International Association of Fire Fighters released a statement saying Missouri Governor Jay Nixon turned his back on fire fighters when they needed him most.

On the night of November 24th, they had the manpower to fight fires, but no protection from National Guardsmen. IAFF representative Mark Woolbright, who's also a firefighter said, "We were led to believe there would be some kind of protection and barrier around us to do the work and to do the job we were sent there to do." He added, "This job is dangerous enough without having to worry about bullets flying around you or over you."

Woolbright says they were often forced to abandon equipment and drop hose lines to avoid gunfire. He said, "It's very disappointing, because we have ownership in the community." IAFF released a statement saying in part, "It turned out that the Governor's words were nothing more than empty promises and pathetic political posturing of the worst kind. As a result, fire fighters were often found in unsecured and dangerous positions."

During an interview Thursday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon defended his decision to keep National Guard out of North County November 24th and also defended his decision not to call the Guard when businesses began burning. I asked, "Why not send rapid response? (Nixon) Later, as we saw the number of shots, the fires, the choice became really clear, what was first, property or life? And in that situation, without a doubt, the right choice and the right plan was to - unfortunately there was property loss and we`ll work hard to make sure that's rebuilt - but it's also important to know that over the last 120 days, we haven't had a single life lost.'

Woolbright said fire fighters never heard about plans to let property burn. He added, "Many of the decisions either weren't enacted on or there was a change of plan at the very last minute and therefore it seemed to be a total blotched effort."

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MAN SOUGHT FOR SETTING BUSINESS ON FIRE IN FERGUSON THE NIGHT OF GRAND JURY'S DECISION


Police released this image of a suspect wanted for setting fire to a Ferguson business on November 24, 2014.

December 5, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

FERGUSON - St. Louis County police released surveillance photos Friday of a man wanted for starting a fire at a business in Ferguson the night of the grand jury's decision.

Police say the man is wanted for starting a fire at Ferguson Market, at 9101 West Florissant Avenue after the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson on Nov. 24.

The photos show the man in the market holding what police believe is an accelerant. He started a fire, police say, but an unknown woman put out the blaze.

The market was looted and damaged that night, but remains standing. Several other businesses in the area were not as lucky; some burned to the ground.

Authorities asked anyone with information to call CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-8477. Callers can remain anonymous.

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MEDIC DESCRIBES ANGER, HEARTBREAK OF FERGUSON RIOTS

December 4, 2014 - EMS1.COM

FERGUSON - Christian Hospital EMS paramedic Katie Keeter shares some of her thoughts and experiences while working in Ferguson, Mo. during the riots and protests since August 2014.

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VIDEO: FERGUSON, MO FIRE CHIEF'S INTERVIEW LAST NIGHT DURING THE FIRES

November 25, 2014 - Chicago Fire Wire

FERGUSON - Here is a video of Ferguson, MO Fire Chief addressing the media during the height of the fires last night. Just sheds some light into how many fires there were, and the conditions the Firefighters faced. The video was posted by USA TODAY and description is posted below.

"Firefighters in Ferguson, MO were battling around 25 building fires early Tuesday morning, hours after the announcement that the grand jury would not file charges against Darren Wilson. Firefighters couldn't get to some fires because of gunfire."

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GUNFIRE, SIMULTANEOUS FIRES SLOWED RESPONSE IN FERGUSON, AUTHORITIES SAY


Photo By David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

November 25, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Joel Currier jcurrier@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8256

FERGUSON - Firefighters battled far more than flames and smoke during protests Monday night in Ferguson, as the work of rioters and arsonists fueled TV broadcasts and social media feeds across the nation.

A steady volley of gunfire prevented firefighters from even reaching 21 fires that raged for hours Monday night and early Tuesday, officials said, after the announcement of a grand jury's decision not to charge a Ferguson police officer in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

"As it relates to the firefighters, it's tragic that the things that we go to great lengths to protect were burned," said Mike Thiemann, a spokesman for Region C Fire Mutual Aid, which has readied more than 80 fire and emergency medical service agencies to respond in Ferguson.

Constant gunfire and the sheer number of simultaneous fires burning along West Florissant Avenue made for a challenging response even with more than 250 firefighters and paramedics ready to work, Thiemann said. Fire and rescue workers from St. Louis, St. Charles, Lincoln, Jefferson and Franklin counties have been tapped to help.

"Just turning around in a circle you could see five working fires," he said. "It was a busy, stressful, complicated evening, but we made it through."

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar estimated he heard gunfire more than 150 times Monday night. As a result, firefighters at times were forced to retreat for their safety. The procedure, Belmar said, is for police to ensure a fire scene is safe and free of other hazards before allowing firefighters to start their work.

For example, Belmar said, firefighters were forced to pull back Monday night from a public storage business on West Florissant Avenue at Canfield Drive. Meanwhile, other businesses, such as Beauty Town, 9163 West Florissant, were allowed to burn down because police would not allow firefighters near. Belmar said there was no standing order for firefighters not to respond Monday night, but police were trying to restore order on the streets to clear the way.

Flames engulfed or damaged various businesses, including a Dellwood auto dealership where at least a dozen cars were burned, a Conoco gas station, a Walgreens, a Little Caesars pizza shop, Sam's Meat Market, an AutoZone and a TitleMax.

"Did we let things happen?" Belmar said. "Certainly not. But please keep in mind that at certain times there's not a lot we can do about any given thing than just try to maintain."

On Tuesday, three investigators with the state fire marshal's office surveyed fire damage in Ferguson, Belmar said. No damage estimate was available Tuesday, but officials were relieved the fires caused no serious injuries.

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READY TO ASSIST

November 26, 2014 - Insurancenewsnet By Linda N. Weller, The Telegraph, Alton, Ill.

ALTON - While area police are remaining on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River during current civil unrest, firefighters from Madison County fire departments are serving as backups in Missouri.

Insurance regulations and inter-departmental agreements, though, are restricting the Illinois firefighters to only assist certain departments in North St. Louis County during the violence in Ferguson.

"The only areas we can operate in are Florissant, Spanish Lake, Black Jack and Riverview Gardens," said Chief Bernie Sebold, of the Alton Fire Department. "We cannot go to Ferguson."

The departments or fire protection districts are members of Mutual Aid Box Alarm System No. 35, which extends into Missouri.

Monday night, Alton, Glen Carbon, South Roxana and Bethalto departments each sent firefighters and a pumper to fire stations in North St. Louis County. Sebold and Chief Ralph Well, of the Glen Carbon Fire Protection District, were commanders of the pumper strike team, each man in charge of two pumpers and their manpower.

He said Alton was at the Black Jack station; Bethalto at Spanish Lake; South Roxana in Riverview Gardens Station 1; and Glen Carbon was at Riverview Gardens Station 2.

None of the Illinois firefighters, though, responded to any calls.

"We watched TV and listened to the radio," Sebold said. "We never went out of the station. Riverview Gardens had one house fire, which was unrelated to Ferguson" violence and local firefighters handled the call.

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COORDINATED EFFORT HELPED PUT OUT FIRES IN FERGUSON

November 25, 2014 - KTVI BY PATRICK CLARK

FERGUSON - Monday night over 20 businesses were set ablaze in the aftermath of the Brown grand jury ruling.

Firefighters from around north St. Louis County to help put out the fires after scenes were secured by police.

Patrick Clark show how the coordinated effort came about.

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BUSINESSES BURN, POLICE CARS TORCHED AS VIOLENCE 'MUCH WORSE' THAN AUGUST


Photo by St. Louis Post Dispatch

November 25, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

FERGUSON - St. Louis County police said Tuesday morning at least 61 people were arrested, at least 10 businesses destroyed or damaged by fire and two police cars torched in the aftermath of the grand jury decision.

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