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Multiple crews respond to large building fire, Fire Marshal called to investigate

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 8:39 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2021 at 4:38 PM CDT
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ELCO, Ill. (KFVS) - The State Fire Marshal has been called in to investigate a building fire in Elco, Illinois on Monday morning, July 26.

Three arson investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office arrived in Elco on Monday afternoon to investigate the cause of a fire at a building on Old Delta Road.

According to a local resident, the building was once a church.

Tamms Fire Lt. Darrell Adams said whether the building was personal property or not is still under investigation.

Crews from Jonesboro, Tamms, Ullin and McClure Fire Departments battled the fire.

When crews first arrived on the scene, flames could be seen shooting out of the roof and windows.

Crews from Jonesboro, Tamms, Ullin and McClure Fire Departments responded to a building fire in...
Crews from Jonesboro, Tamms, Ullin and McClure Fire Departments responded to a building fire in Elco on Monday morning.(Source: KFVS/Jordin Wyatt)

Heavy smoke was also visible.

One neighbor said the smell of smoke caught his attention that something was wrong.

“I come out on the back steps real heavy odor of smoke in the air,” said James Tash. “I didn’t know what exactly what was going on, I heard fire engines come into town. When I got up here of course, you see what happened. It’s a tragedy.”

Crews from Jonesboro, Tamms, Ullin and McClure Fire Departments responded to a building fire in...
Crews from Jonesboro, Tamms, Ullin and McClure Fire Departments responded to a building fire in Elco on Monday morning.(Source: KFVS/Jordin Wyatt)

The roof also collapsed and the sides of the building were losing structural integrity.

“When we lose structural integrity, which means the building is not strong enough for us to safely be inside,” explained Lt. Adams. “If it’s not safe for my guys to be inside, I pull them out because obviously I don’t want my guys getting hurt. Our number one goal is safety. We do try to protect life and property, but at the same time we have to protect ourselves as well.”

Lt. Adams said two firefighters, one from Tamms and one from Ullin, were treated by EMS for smoke and heat exhaustion.

Despite the number of fire department responding to the blaze, they could have used more personnel. He said most rural department depend on volunteers to respond to emergencies and lately there has been a shortage.

“We’re always looking for help,” said Lt. Adams. “Like I say, you know were short staff being a small community and being volunteer. You don’t have to know a lot. We train, we pay for training. If you want to make a big difference in your community come on down and talk to myself or any of the other officers.”

Elco is north of Tamms in rural Alexander County.

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