Fire destroys two buildings

By Gary Brode |, Drew Wilder |

Published 07/28 2014 08:20AM

Updated 07/29 2014 10:44AM

Latest: 10:05 pm
MATTOON -- A fire which destroyed two buildings has finally been put out. Now clean-up begins. No word yet what started the fire about 10:30 pm, Sunday. It was on DeWitt Avenue between Logan and Lerna. WCIA-3's Gary Brode finds out more.

An insurance agent says the fire caused at least $1 million in damage. The storage facility was 55,000 square feet. Now those who used it are picking up what's left.

"I kind of knew it was going to be bad when I saw the flames a quarter of a mile away."

It was. The fire chief believes the fire started at the storage facility and the wind caused the flames to spread next door. Crews worked throughout the night to put out the flames, but it was too late. Two buildings burned to the ground.

"It kind of went out in pretty spectacular terms."

Timothy Tutt used the space for more than 20 years. His dad owned the building even longer. He stored engineering equipment for his business. Now, he's out more than $100,000.

"It's not the money as much as the loss of production."

Now, the clean-up beings for Tutt and many others. One of Tutt's employees looks through the rubble trying to find anything which was spared. After hours of searching, not much luck.

These are diesel timers, one of the many things Tutt's business will have to replace. Before the fire, there were thousands. Now, a little more than a dozen remain.

"That's all I've been able to save so far."

The search continues.

"It's not worth anything financially, per se. It's just part of my engineering history."

Tutt's business is only a couple of buildings over. He's driven by here countless times, but never to this site.

"It's going to be different, but, you know, you get to my age, you start losing things. You start losing people. Now, I've lost a building. It wasn't going to last forever."

The owner of the storage facility also lost an RV. He was storing it for the week and was going to let St. Jude Hospital use it for a weekend event. He's also having hip replacement surgery Tuesday. More information on the fire is expected then as well.
Update: 12:00 pm
MATTOON -- Crews are still pouring water on hot spots after two buildings burned down Sunday night. DeWitt Avenue, between Logan and Lerna Road is still closed. WCIA-3's Drew Wilder shows us what happened.

Minutes after the call went out, two buildings were engulfed.

"We had fire coming out of the north side, south side, east and west, just blowing through the roof. It had already vented itself."

The fire started at this storage facility just after 10 pm, Sunday. High winds out of the west blew the fire from the storage facility to Insulation Service which houses fiberglass and foam insulation. It exploded throughout the night, fueling the fire.

"I hadn't been on scene more than two minutes. I had just stepped out of my truck and there was a pretty good explosion. You know, it rattled everything around here."

Throughout the morning, firefighters continued their aerial attack. The fire caused the metal roof of Insulation Service to collapse which prevented water from reaching the fire below.

"With the strong winds we had last night, it just whipped through that open warehouse."

No one from Insulation Service nor the owner of the storage building wanted to go on camera, but both say they're just thankful no one was hurt. One firefighter had a minor injury to his eye, but was treated and released.
Original: 8:20 am
MATTOON -- Fire tore through an insulation business Sunday night. It started around 10:30 pm, on Dewitt Avenue. It took several crews more than four hours to get the flames under control.

No one was seriously hurt, but a firefighter got debris in his eye while working and was sent to the hospital. Authorities say he'll be okay.

Officials say the fire possibly started next door at a storage facility to the west, and strong winds pushed the flames over to Insulation Services. The State Fire Marshal is now investigating.

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