(via KOLR) A fire investigation turns into a death investigation after a body was discovered in the rubble of a burned-out Branson motel.
It all started following a fire at the Hillbilly Inn Motel, located on Highway 76 in-between Fall Creek Road and Roark Valley Road, around 4:30 Thursday morning.
Crews battled the flames for several hours, containing the fire to a restaurant connected to the motel rooms.
“We felt like that was the objective,” said Branson Fire Department Chief, Ted Martin, “and fire crews were able to make a much more aggressive stop than that, saving much more of the roof structure than what we predicted.”
Once the fire was under control, an excavator was used to clear away unsafe portions of the structure to allow the Fire Marshal to get closer to the fire’s place of origin.
It was during that process, some six hours after the fire started, a body was discovered.
“Within the incident we had a roof structure that collapsed down to the main floor, that collapsed down into the basement,” said Martin. “This victim was found underneath all of that rubble.”
Martin says the building has been closed for about four years. Now the investigation becomes a slow, systematic process of determining who the person is and why they were inside at the time of the fire.
“We’re going to have to sift through more evidence to see what we can come up with,” said Taney County Coroner, Kevin Tweedy. “Anything that might help us identify the body — a piece of paper with a name on it, maybe even an ID.”
Tweedy says, most likely, forensics will be used to determine the age and gender, because the person was burned beyond recognition.
It’s unknown when the investigations into the causes of the death and fire could be complete.