Lack of sprinkler system worsens Dollar General fire

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Better prevention could have lessened an estimated $500,000 in damage from Tuesday's Dollar General fire in Silvis.

"It would have made a great difference up there," said Assistant Silvis Fire Chief Steve Bein.

A restoration crew was trying to pick up the pieces on Wednesday at the Crosstown Shopping Center.  Workers were clearing debris and securing the building just hours after a devastating fire.

"It's pretty charred," said Property Manager Laurie Peters.  "It looks like pretty much all of the building got caught by the fire."

Thick smoke even startled firefighters on Tuesday.  They worked high above and close to the ground.  The fire's timing and circumstances didn't help them.

Nobody was hurt.  Shoppers and staffers made it out safely.

The fire worsened with paper products and other merchandise in the store.  Plus, harm from something that's not inside.

"There is no sprinkler system installed in this portion of the building," Peters said.

While the store had working smoke detectors that alerted employees to the fire, it did not have a sprinkler system.

While firefighters especially study the center of the building, what's not there could reveal a big part of the case.

The state fire marshal continues to gather clues.  The investigation includes pouring over security video and witness interviews.

"A sprinkler system in there would have been a great help," Bein said.  "There's quick activation.  You're going to have some water.  But, you know what, you're going to save your building."

Some 10 employees are now working temporarily at other Dollar General locations.

As this store goes up in smoke,  Dollar General must decide where to go from here.