CAHOKIA HEIGHTS, Ill. – Investigators are trying to figure out what caused an intense overnight fire that destroyed a Metro East convenience store.
It happened at the ‘County Line Quick Stop’ on Camp Jackson Road at Carol Street, very close to Cahokia Heights. A quick-moving and destructive fire completely destroyed the building. Crews got the first call just before 2:30 a.m.
The Camp Jackson Fire Department was very close to the scene, so their crews were the first to arrive.
Camp Jackson Fire Chief Chris Davis said the flames were already pouring from the building when he and his crews got to the scene. The fire quickly grew to five alarms, with some 30 firefighters responding from 10 different departments.
The business owner did not want to speak on camera. However, he did say off-camera that one of his workers was sleeping in a second-floor apartment when the fire happened. He revealed that the worker woke up from the smoke and then ran outside to see the flames. That’s when he called the authorities.
The business owner added that the gasoline pumps were not working when the fire happened, but there were propane tanks that firefighters had to move before the flames reached them. There was also a gaming area inside the general area where authorities think the fire began.
“It went pretty quick. Like I said, once it got up in that attic, you could hear the fire up there. And it just took off; maybe within 5 or 10 minutes, it was all the way to the other end,” Chief Davis said. “The first crew we were hitting it with water, and then I had one other guy, he was trying to cut the bars and stuff off the windows. He was able to do that and once other companies started arriving, they went to make entry to try and knock the fire down and the roof started coming in. I had to hurry up and evacuate them from the building.”
Chief Davis says a lot of people came to the convenience store and having it burn down is a loss for the community.
“It’s sad I hate that it happened to him. These my friends. They have been my friends for years,” resident Eddie Smith said. “Because everybody comes here. Everybody comes here from all over the place. We all one big family over here.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. No injuries are being reported. The state fire marshal has been called in to take over the investigation.