Clean up continues at the scene of a weekend fire that destroyed the offices of a Logan County, Illinois, business. The fire started early Sunday morning at Central Illinois Ag, a Case IH dealership in Atlanta.
Fire officials say a passerby on the interstate spotted flames just after two a.m. Dozens of local and neighboring firefighters came out to battle the blaze, but it still took hours to get it under control.
"Of course I rushed down here as soon as I could get here, and by the time I got here the fire trucks and everything were already here puncturing holes in the building to get the fire put out," General Manager of the Atlanta office Warren Goetsch said.
Atlanta Fire Department's Captain told us they were still trying to put out smoldering hot spots at 10:30 Sunday morning. Many of the volunteer firefighters, who helped contain the fire, were also employees at the dealership. Officials say about 15 departments came out to help battle the blaze. Fortunately there were no injuries, and the computer files lost in the fire, were backed up. Still, employees who work at the offices say it’s not easy to see them in this condition.
"It's kind of devastating. You know, we all thought this was our home and it hurt us a little bit. But we'll be all right," Goetsch said.
Not only will the dealership move forward with plans to rebuild, they plan to expand with a larger facility. Located right on Route 66, one of the small town's big attractions, the business is a major part of the community, employing a significant number of working adults in the town.
"Thirty-something people in Atlanta in a town in 1,600, and probably six people that are employed here on the fire department so they were here," long time employee Steve Schmidt said.
Schmidt said that every employee of the business was on site at some point Monday, helping with clean up and reorganization efforts. Even though phone lines are down, a customer still stopped by to pick up some equipment at the charred facility. The fire did not reach areas where equipment was stored, so there was only minor smoke damage in those areas. The front half of the business where the offices were located is a total loss, but the business is staying open and they are expecting mobile office units to be here within the week.
The State Fire Marshal was on scene this afternoon, along with the company’s insurance adjuster. There is no word yet on what caused the fire, or the estimated cost of damages.