SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Springfield Fire Department set out early Saturday morning to put out the largest fire the city of Springfield has seen this century.
Around 4:45 am on December 24, the Springfield Fire Department was dispatched to a fire on 11th Street, at an abandoned building that was formerly a Goodwill. The crew immediately called for backup.
Courtesy: Springfield Fire Department
Several areas were already collapsed due to the old age of the building. The subzero temperatures also limited how the fire department could respond and required more people.
Six engine companies, four additional command staff, three truck companies and two command companies all responded to the fire. The firefighters also used a bus by the Springfield Metro Transit Department to warm up after working to extinguish the fire in the cold.
The fire department did save the building north of the abandoned Goodwill building.
While the fire department did not use investigators to find any bodies due to the holiday, officials have confirmed a number of people who were seen frequenting the abandoned Goodwill building are safe. The department is still working to confirm 2 homeless people who are frequently seen squatting in the area are okay.
Public Works arranged for an excavator to be sent to the scene to help clear some unstable areas and conduct a rudimentary search. The department is also still trying a secure a cadaver dog to locate possible victims.
Springfield Fire Chief Brandon Blough estimates it was the biggest building fire in Springfield history since the Weaver Paint Factory in 1979. The only reported injuries were a couple of cases of frostbite for some firefighters.
Blough also thanked the firefighters for putting out the fire in the cold.
“I want to thank all the men and women of the SFD for their hard work in absolutely insufferable conditions,” Blough said. “I also want to thank the SPD, Public Works, CWLP (particularly the Water Department for assisting with boosting water pressure on scene), Salvation Army and Red Cross for setting up a canteen for all our crews on scene.”