“I’ve never seen so many cars in the area;” Road closure creates traffic after warehouse fire

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DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — The city of Decatur closed a road in front of a warehouse that burned down on Saturday.

Officials said the stretch of Grand Avenue between Calhoun and Illinois Streets isn’t safe. Bricks have spilled out onto the street. The city is worried the rest of the wall could come down as well.

“It’s not safe to open that section of Grand to general traffic until we can push that back in,” city manager Scot Wrighton said. “We’re moving as rapidly as we can.”

Wrighton estimated it could take a few more days before the road can reopen. He said the city is working with the owners of the property to figure out what they can do, what insurance will cover and if emergency action is needed.”

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who does the work as long as it gets done and the roadway is safe again for our citizens to use,” Wrighton said.”

In the meantime, vehicles have to navigate a bit of a traffic jam in the area.

“It’s been crazy,” Calvin Carson said. He lives nearby. “You have to wait at least 30 to 40 minutes to get through… I’ve never seen so many cars in the area since I’ve been around here.”

Carson said he’s now taking shortcuts to avoid the long waits at the intersection.

Meanwhile, Central Illinois Christians in Mission has remained closed since the fire. The ministry’s building lost power on Saturday.

“The problem for us is we are a furniture bank,” president Greg Bradley explained. “We give furniture away for free, we take donations to give away and we are not operating. We have no phones, no power until they get that stuff back on for us.”

From what Bradley and his fellow board members have been able to see, the garage door facing the warehouse was the only part of the building to take on significant damage. The heat melted the Styrofoam on the back of the door.

Bradley said he’s eager for Ameren to finish restoring power.

“We’re here,” he said. “We’re going to operate as soon as the Good Lord opens the door.”

The State Fire Marshal’s Office and Decatur Fire Department are investigating the cause of the fire.

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