Firefighter taken to hospital after Lincoln University fire

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JEFFERSON CITY (Updated: 4 p.m.) - A Jefferson City Fire Official told KOMU 8 News one firefighter was being taken to the hospital Thursday after responding to a fire at the Dickinson Research Facility on Lincoln University's campus.

Jefferson City Fire Division Chief Jason Turner said the firefighter was most likely being taken to the hospital because of heat or smoke.

The Director of Facilities and Planning with Lincoln University said the university is afraid of a structural collapse because of the severe damage caused by the fire. Employees who work in the Dickinson Research Facility are allowed in the building only for a few minutes to collect any valuables from their offices. 

Lincoln University police said the call came in at 10:56 a.m. Officials said someone at Jefferson City High School saw smoke coming from the building alerted 9-1-1 operators.

Officials said six people were inside the building at the time and were evacuated. 

When KOMU 8's Amy Money arrived on scene about 11:45 a.m., she smelled and saw gray smoke coming from the building. She was allowed access to the building for five minutes and saw water damage and debris laying all over the floor. 

Division Chief Jason Turner with the Jefferson City Fire Department said there were no injuries reported from the fire or evacuation, but said at about noon, teams would be battling flames for at least another hour. 

Graduate student Steve Banton said he saw the flames up close and told people to leave the building. He said he also called 9-1-1. 

Banton said he saw flames and smoke coming from the back of the building. Another witness said the whole interior of the building was destroyed. Both witnesses told KOMU 8 News they saw flames and smoke coming from the Dickinson Research Facility. 

Turner said six units were on the scene of the fire, and additional units, including firefighters who had the day off, were called in to assist.

Because the Dickinson Research Facility is used to study plants, Turner said there were chemicals inside the building, prompting firefighters to use extra caution.

Facility workers were able to go into the building and gather whatever valuables weren't destroyed in the fire. 

No classes are being taught at the facility this summer, but lab researchers will have to relocate. 

On Friday, the school will bring in an electrical engineer and structural engineer to further assess the damage. 

[Editor's note: This story and its headlines have been updated to include the latest relevant information and to correct the identity of the initial 9-1-1 caller to 'someone at Jefferson City High School' instead of 'a Jefferson City High School student'.]