EAST ST. LOUIS - The East St. Louis Fire Department worked through Wednesday night (July 5) and into Thursday morning as crews battled a major fire at Classic Tire Shop (1600 State Street).
Assistant Fire Chief Derrick Burns said the department called in all its resources to help after fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. The report initially came in for heavy smoke in the area and first responders said flames were shooting from the roof when they arrived.
East St. Louis Police were first on the scene and rescued a man who was sleeping in the building. Burns said firefighters were able to contain the fire in about an hour and a half.
Classic Tire Shop provides tire and tire services to the City of East St. Louis including the police, fire and public works, according to Burns. St. Clair County Emergency Management Coordinator Herb Simmons said the business has been a fixture in the community for decades.
Simmons, who responded to the scene to see if emergency responders needed additional resources, said the fire was so intense he could feel the heat from 500 feet away.
Simmons said there were multiple explosions in the burning building. Firefighters sprayed water on neighboring buildings to prevent debris from the explosions from spreading the flames.
"When we arrived on the scene initially, there was a lot of heavy fire showing and we were concerned about the embers blowing to other structures and business," said Burns.
The fire caused the west side of the building to crumble into 16th Street. No other structures were impacted by the crumbling wall.
Simmons called the building a total loss. Burns said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.