Needy kids lose thousands of donated Christmas toys to massive warehouse fire

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The sun sets for the second day in a row on fire crews still working a massive warehouse fire in south St. Louis.  The fire is contained but hot spots remain.

The first reports of the fire at the 239,000 square foot facility began coming in Wednesday morning. What started as a small fire in the basement grew quickly out of control. Fanning the flames are materials like thousands of books and citronella candles stored in the warehouse. Within an hour the warehouse at 39th and Park was engulfed. An empty fire truck was damaged when a wall collapsed.

Around 1,500 children have received invitations to attend the a Christmas party at Shriners Hospital in the Central West End on December 10, 2017. Now the toys are among the ashes in the warehouse fire.

John Cordell is the president of Transworld Sales and Marketing, he's also a Shriner.  Cordell owned 50,000 square feet of the public warehouse that went up in flames on Wednesday . He says  that he lost a lot of merchandise including 160,000 citronela candles, hand sanitizers, and shampoos.

"I came down when the wall fell over on the truck. I warned the fire marshal that there is 160,000 thousand citronela candles in there. There it would be funny smoke," said John Cordell.

Cordell says the fire destroyed toys and blankets meant for Shriners Hospital patients for Christmas.  That breaks his heart.

"There were hundreds and hundreds of blankets, and skids of toys. The toys have been donated to my company throughout the year. We bring them over and wrap them up.  We just did not move over there quick enough," said John Cordell.

Cordell says hundreds of kids have already been invited for the December Christmas party.  Each child would have received a gift at the event. Now the Shriners are trying to stimulate more toys for the children

"The gifts that they receive, they don't unwrap. They put them under their tree. This may be the only presents they have. So, it means a lot," said John Cordell.

The Shriners will hold a toy drive. They are asking members of the public to donate. Donations can be made to the Moolah Temple on Fee Fee Road or at the Shriners Hospital in the Central West End from 9am until noon this Saturday.

More information about toy donations can be seen here.

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