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Missouri Governor Mike Parson and then-U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville) brief reporters and Wooldridge-area residents in front of the fire-damaged church on October 26, 2022 (file photo courtesy of Governor Parson's Facebook page)

(LISTEN): Author: Wooldridge blaze in October 2022 was the largest fire mutual aid response in state history

The massive October 22, 2022 blaze in rural Wooldridge burned about 3,000 acres (file photo from 939 the Eagle listener Stephen McBee)

Sunday (October 22) is the one-year anniversary of the great Wooldridge fire of 2022, a blaze that literally burned half of the village off the map in less than two hours.

Columbia resident Tim Scherrer has written a brand-new 350-page book about the fire, which is called “Half the Town Burned.” Mr. Scherrer tells 939 the Eagle that he’ll launch the new book on Sunday afternoon in Wooldridge, which is in nearby Cooper County.

“We’re going to have a get-together at the Wooldridge Community Center at 3 pm on Sunday, which is the date and hour of the fire. I got to know all of the residents of this fire, and they all scattered to the winds. And many of them have not seen each other since the fire,” Mr. Scherrer says.

The blaze destroyed at least 23 structures in Wooldridge and closed I-70 near Rocheport for several hours. Mr. Scherrer says three residents almost lost their lives, noting the fire triggered the largest statewide fire mutual aid in Missouri history. He says 161 firefighters from 63 departments from across Missouri battled the blaze.

“Saw this as really an opportunity for them to get together, and also to just sign some books,” says Scherrer.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson speaks to American Red Cross volunteers in front of the historic Wooldridge church on October 26, 2022 (file photo courtesy of the governor’s Facebook page)

The book doesn’t mince words about the impact of the fire on the town. Mr. Scheerer writes that the blaze left most residents, living on the edge of poverty, struggling to meet basic needs. He describes the book as an inspiring tale of first responders facing the largest challenge of their lives, and residents facing the worst-case scenario. The book includes 190 photos.

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