UPDATED: Thick smoke from a large building fire in Galesburg, Illinois could be seen from outside the city limits Tuesday morning, June 12, 2012.
“All the sudden flames started shooting out the second floor, you could see it come out of the roof. The heat up here on the house and everything was extremely hot,” described a man who lives next to the scene of Tuesday’s fire.
“Looks like somebody, like I said, dropped a bomb on it,” explained one onlooker.
“I would say definitely a total loss. I would say they should just tear it down and the other building that’s with it down,” said another onlooker.
“Old structure like that, it’s a lot of old dry wood that burns pretty fast. Once it got into the structure we had a fight on our hands,” says Galesburg District Fire Chief Todd Peterson.
The fire was reported at about 8:30 a.m. at 115 North Cedar Street. About an hour into the firefight, a portion of the building reportedly began to collapse. The firefight was moved to a defensive mode, and the fire continued to be fought from the exterior of the building three hours after it was first reported.
The fire and smoke was reportedly visible from east of Interstate 74, about two miles away.
The fire was reportedly in a three-story brick building at the former Hawkinson Manufacturing Plant at Cedar Avenue and Ferris Place north of Route 150 in Galesburg.
City officials said they were unable to confirm the current use of the building. At least one apartment was inside the building.
One firefighter was transported to an area hospital after he was injured battling the fire. A statement from a Galesburg city spokesperson said the firefighter was being treated for “a minor fall injury.”
District Chief Peterson says his firefighter suffered a broken collarbone and a possible concussion after tumbling out of a second story window.
“As he was coming out the window the heat came over top of him, the flames and he miss stepped on the ladder,” says Peterson.
The building is a total loss. The cause of the fire was not yet determined.