PINCKNEYVILLE, IL (KFVS) - Fire crews battled a large structure fire on the Pinckneyville town square on Monday night, June 15.
That fire started in a building directly next to the Perry County Sheriff's Office, and across from the County Courthouse on Water Street.
Firefighters say the fire started around 11 p.m.
Pinckneyville Fire Chief Jim Gielow said there are currently offices on the ground level with apartments on the upper floors.
Red Cross is on the scene providing food and hydration to emergency personnel. They also have a case worker here talking to the fire victims about making sure they have a place to stay and their immediate needs are met.
Wendell Spann, who lived in one of the apartments, said it'll be a challenge to get readjusted.
"I was sick," Spann said. "I was devastated."
When Spann saw his apartment complex up in flames, he said it was heartbreaking.
"I've really strived you know, and worked hard and then you get that dreaded knock on your door and you come out and see everything that you work for just basically go up in smoke," he said.
The American Red Cross, local businesses in the area and other fire departments came to help out, making sure families were safe, and food was provided.
"I just want to thank everybody for that because it means a lot," Spann said.
Fire officials say families are staying in motels nearby or do have arrangements with other friends and family.
Spann said now it's just a matter of picking up the pieces and starting over.
"You know it's going to be a struggle, but we're going to do it," Spann said. "We'll make it."
By 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the roof had collapsed. Flames touched surrounding buildings, but firefighters believe they did not cause any damage.
Gielow said the Perry County Sheriff has his staff on standby to evacuate the building, including the jail, if needed. Nearby county dispatch centers are ready to pick up any 911 traffic if that happens.
Gielow also said he does not expect the fire to affect operations at the Perry County Courthouse.
Illinois State Police report the fire is causing traffic to be rerouted in the area.
The southbound lane of Illinois Route 127 was unaffected.
However, Illinois route 127 northbound was being diverted to the west side of the square via the marked detour.
The detour followed the southbound lane of Route 127, making the one way streets open for two way traffic around the west side of the square.
Illinois Route 154 eastbound was being diverted around the west side and north side of the square, then east to southbound Gordon Street where it rejoins Illinois route 154.
This traffic alert is expected to last a majority of the day. Motorists should consider alternate routes to avoid the area.
There is still uncertainty as to what caused the fire. The Pinckneyville police chief said he's unsure whether or not the building is a complete loss. It'll be up to the owner to decide.