Violations found at Raytown business days before 'suspicious' fire

RAYTOWN, Mo. -- Fire officials and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents continued to investigate a “suspicious” weekend fire at a Raytown business on Monday as new details were uncovered on recent inspections at the site.

The fire took place early Sunday morning at Dirty Don’s Bargain Center off East 56th Street in Raytown.

Two of the four buildings at the site suffered damages estimated to be more than $100,000 combined.

While the exact cause of the fire still remains under investigation, officials told 41 Action News that the circumstances surrounding the incident remained suspicious.

On Monday, customers continued to stop by the business despite police tape blocking off the entrance to the store.

“I think it’s a Raytown staple,” said Mark Thatcher, who owns Bankers Security nearby. “Some people that work here shop there. It’s really active most of the time.”

The store, which sells surplus food and other items, was inspected by both health and fire officials last week.

Last Tuesday, a Jackson County Environmental Health Division inspector found numerous violations at the business.

The violations included:

  • Mice droppings found in multiple spots around the storage buildings,
  • Trash and debris piled at outdoor dumpsters and evidence of some of the garbage being burned,
  • Moldy and musty odors in the storage buildings making it “hard to breathe” for inspectors while inside, and
  • Evidence of mice chewing through some food packaging in the storage building.

Last Friday, fire officials also conducted an inspection at the site.

Investigators noted that pallets of items were stacked high and dangerously crooked in the storage buildings.

An investigator also told 41 Action News that inspectors found a sprinkler system shut off inside one of the storage buildings that burned two days later.

On Monday, a fire official said it was still unknown whether the violations had any impact on the fire.

News of the suspicious fire investigation brought some worry for neighbors and businesses nearby.

“Any time you have a neighbor that has a fire you’re concerned. Especially if there’s suspicion to it,” Thatcher said. “You really don’t see much activity through here. I was really surprised to hear about it and we are concerned.”

The owner of Dirty Don’s did not respond to a request for comment from 41 Action News.

No injuries were reported in the fire.

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