The intensity of a fire that started late Christmas Eve and raged into Christmas Day could make it difficult to determine the cause, according to Wyoming's fire chief.
A Wyoming building that burned down in a huge, uncontrollable fire that also destroyed several vehicles and other items in rental storage on Christmas Eve sat on property that had been enrolled in an environmental cleanup program without any follow-up, state records show.
At least nine volunteer fire departments fought the blaze that was reported about 10 p.m. Monday and raged through about 5 a.m. Christmas morning in the East Williams Street building that once was an electronics manufacturing site but has been used for rental storage the past several years, Wyoming Fire Chief Ed Fogelsonger said Wednesday afternoon.
"I’ve been on (the department) since 1990, and this is really the biggest building we’ve had on fire since then," he said.
The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office had been on the site Wednesday. But it appeared unlikely there would be any conclusion about the origins of the fire because of its intensity, Fogelsonger said.
"There’s some things that we’re looking at," he said, "but everything was so destroyed that we’re not able to put a finger on anything."
The current owner of the site is Rucker Meaker of rural Wyoming, who has been operating a storage business there under the name of JES Storage, according to Illinois Environmental Protection Agency records. He did not return a call.
No overall loss estimate was immediately available. But Mike Bigger, a local State Farm Insurance agent who also is chairman of the Stark County Board, said the people who had contacted him Wednesday indicated there were considerable losses of boats, recreational vehicles, and vintage cars, among other potentially valuable items.
"It’s going to be a fairly huge loss just on the stuff that was being stored in there," Bigger said.
The property, once owned by Breeze-Illinois and later by Trans-Technology Electronics of Peoria, had been signed up for the IEPA’s Site Remediation Program, according to information on the agency’s Web site.
That program, which is voluntary and involves no enforcement action, allows property owners to seek letters from the IEPA certifying that no further action is necessary on issues of soil or ground-water contamination on affected properties.
Trans-Technology sought and received approval for the ground-water studies in 1997 but never followed through with any results, according to information available Wednesday. A Peoria phone number listed for Trans-Technology in IEPA records rang without being answered Wednesday afternoon, and a call seeking further information from the IEPA was not immediately returned.
Reach Journal Star reporter Gary L. Smith at (309) 686-3041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.