Crews demolish vacant Carbondale church after fire; intersection reopened
CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - Crews demolished a vacant church Monday, February 6 following a fire.
Firefighters got the call around 9:44 a.m. on Monday about a fire at Walnut Street Baptist church, next to city hall.
By Monday evening, firefighters were still on scene to monitor hot spots.
Crews had also shown up to begin the process of tearing the building down. They continued to tear down the building throughout Monday night.
On Tuesday, the intersection at Walnut Street and University Avenue were reopened in the afternoon. The intersection was closed for the past 24 hours following the fire. There is still much debris on and around the block.
The building is currently owned by the city of Carbondale.
It was made up of two structures, one older and one newer. The fire started in the older structure.
According to Roni LeForge, the public information officer for the city of Carbondale, the city council was discussing whether or not to demolish the older section at its last meeting. You can read that in the General Business section, 8.3, in the city council’s agenda here.
The city said in a post on Facebook that there was a small amount of asbestos in the basement, but that there was no risk of asbestos exposure because the fire was contained to the second and third floors.
“It’s going to open up the corner,” said Carbondale resident Steven St. Julian. “And maybe something nice will go there.”
Even in the midst of a fire, St. Julian believes that the property on the corner of Route 13 and 51 could potentially turn into something.
Many people came to look at the old Walnut Street Baptist Church throughout the day.
“It’s kind of crazy. You can see the roof straight there. You can see the sky straight through,” said one Carbondale resident.
The fire started in the older portion of the two structures.
“Well, sir, when I first came into Carbondale I could see smoke and as I went around Schnucks and continued to the east then everybody had to start moving to the right lanes then I see the fire trucks and more smoke coming from the building,” said another woman rerouted in traffic by the fire.
But St. Julian said he is glad no one was injured in the fire.
“Everything looked dangerous about that building,” said St. Julian. “So this is actually very lucky that this happened and it happened in a good way, nobody’s hurt and hopefully nobody losing anything from it.”
Multiple crews responded to the scene including ones from Herrin, Marion, Carterville and Murphysboro.
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