Cleanup continues at Murphysboro Walmart after fire; cause still under investigation

The Walmart store in Murphysboro could be closed for weeks following Wednesday's fire.
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 6:08 PM CST
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MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (KFVS) - Just one day after a fire started in the Murphysboro Walmart, crews began to clean up the pieces.

“Well, obviously it’ll cause residents to have too readjust some of their shopping habits,” said Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens.

Mayor Stephens said the fire at the town’s Walmart could also mean a dip in sales tax revenue.

“Walmart is one of the biggest sales tax generators for us,” he said. “So, there’s no doubt that we’re going to see a reduction in revenue. I don’t know exactly what that’s going to be but time will tell.”

80 percent of Murphysboro’s city budget is made up of retail sales tax.

Stephens said they will not know the impact of the loss of retail sales tax until a few months.

“Sales tax collected in January isn’t remitted back to the city until April,” he explained. “So we won’t really know what impact this had until three months from now.”

Meanwhile, most of the merchandise inside the store is being removed, mainly due to smoke damage.

“They have made significant headway, Walmart has, in cleaning the store and getting the spoiled merchandise out and that type of thing. They’ve got just a multitude of people in there doing that kind of work,” said City of Murphysboro Fire Chief Steve McBride.

McBride said the fire started on the roof and worked its way into the store.

“There was a lot of damage, especially on the roof. There’s a large area of the roof that’s burned away. It’s a rubber membrane type roof; and a large section of it was burned away. Inside, the damage was confined to the shoe department area,” said McBride.

He said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“I went out there today and began an investigation alongside the investigator from Walmart’s insurance company,” said McBride.

Heavy smoke filled the inside of the store during Wednesday’s fire. Mayor Stephens said many products are going to have be refurbished or thrown away.

“I think that some of it will probably be taken in by Walmart’s insurance company and then sold to various salvage companies. Things like hardware, obviously, can be cleaned. But something like a dress shirt is probably ruined,” said Stephens.

The mayor said he is glad that the only damage was to products and the building.

“I just want to, again, be thankful that there wasn’t any loss of life,” said Stephens.

Heartland News reached out to Walmart for a comment. They have yet to respond.

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