Video Shows Fire Obliterating Liberty Bell Oil Co. Building in Botanical Heights

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click to enlarge The Liberty Bell Oil Company building, well done. - Screenshot
The Liberty Bell Oil Company building, well done.

An early-morning fire obliterated a stately two-story brick factory building that once housed the Liberty Bell Oil Company in the city's Botanical Heights neighborhood — or, as a witness to the blaze accurately narrated in a series of Instagram videos: "OHMYGODITSONFYERRRRR."

The two-alarm blaze broke out after 4 a.m. Thursday. Driving past 1430 South Vandeventer at the time was St. Louis resident Brittany Mangan, who called 911. Then she turned on her camera, because obviously you gotta do it for the 'Gram.

Here's Mangan's full video, which she provided to RFT.

Mangan's footage presents a broad view of the fire as it tears through the two-story structure, offering an even better impression of its destructive power than the clips the St. Louis Fire Department uploaded to Twitter last week.

Worth noting: the above video lacks sound, but we highly recommend watching the footage from Mangan's original Instagram story. In particular, her commentary as she zooms in on a firefighter spraying water from atop a ladder walks the line between valley girl exuberance and homage to the classic works of Dr. Seuss:

Look at this guy.
Look at that guy up there.
Brave guy.
You go, guy.

You go guy, indeed.

Anyway, back to the fire: Thankfully, no one was injured. A homeless man who'd been sleeping in the back of the structure reportedly woke up to the smoke and called the responding firefighters to let them know his bedroom had turned into a hellscape. The man reportedly escaped on his own and declined medical attention.

The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. In an email this morning, fire department spokesman Garon Mosby notes that investigators have yet to examine the interior of the building.

"Essentially, the structure sustained a serious collapse," Mosby writes. "Therefore, it is unsafe to commit fire investigators to the interior of the compromised structure."

St. Louis Fire Battalion Chief Paul Weil told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the fire was suspicious, considering the structure was abandoned and had no functioning utilities. On the other hand, Weil pointed out that there was a century's worth of oil saturated into the building's wood, meaning that it wouldn't have taken much to spark an inferno.

Here's what the building looked like in better days.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]

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