25 Hours Later, Warehouse Fire is Out
By: Carly O'Keefe
MURPHYSBORO, Ill. - Firefighters faced many challenges Friday battling a blaze at the old Murphysboro Grocery Company building.
Low water pressure in nearby hydrants made even getting water to fight the fire difficult. Many of the old building's windows were covered with tin, which kept that water from reaching the fire in many places. Firefighters were confronted with a fire protected by brick walls in a situation where it wasn't safe for them to go inside, which made for a long day and night.
"Being able to get the water to where it was useful was a problem. We basically had to wait for the fire to come to us before it was effective, and that happened after the roof collapsed," said Murphysboro Fire Chief Kevin Reeves.
The roof collapsed in the afternoon, but the fire still wouldn't go out.
"I thought maybe by the end of the day it'd be under control, but it was going all night long. We got here this morning and they were still here. It took until early this morning to get this done. There were so many hot spots in it, it was hard for them to put everyone out," said building owner Ashley Johnson.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, 25 hours after first arriving on scene, firefighters were finally able to go home.
Owners pumped water of of the basement where several vehicles previously thought destroyed were surprisingly undamaged.
"The car and the S-10--they made it," said Johnson.
An antique collector renting space in the lower level found some chairs, dressers and tables that--while wet--are miraculously untouched by flames and smoke.
"There's so much old wood in there, it's amazing it's not gone, it really is," said Johnson.
The building itself is a total loss, and we may never know the cause of what firefighters say was the biggest fire in Murphysboro in more than a decade.
"With that amount of damage there is, it's really hard for an investigator to get in there and pinpoint exactly where it started and what caused it," said Reeves.