WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. – A multi-purpose complex housing the Washington Park Police and Fire departments burned Tuesday afternoon in a fire you could see for miles.
Washington Park is located just north of East St. Louis and west of Fairview Heights. It’s an already impoverished community now dealing with a crippling of some critical city services. Washington Park Battalion Chief Ronnie Harris said the community will get through this.
Just after 2 p.m., St. Clair County Emergency Management announced mutual aid from State Park, French Village, Fairmont City, and Caseyville fire departments were assisting in fighting the fire.
Part of the building collapsed during the fire, which also burned through the roof.
Investigators believe the fire began in the rear of the building, where the city’s Streets Department operates. The exact cause of the fire has not been identified.
Approximately 15 men and women made it out ok, according to Harris. He said what was left behind could harm city services going forward.
“All of our equipment is in there. The fire department and police department share a building. All of the police equipment is inside too,” he said.
Harris said that keys to both department and personal vehicles may have been inside as well.
“All of that is in the building. Hopefully, we can recover those car keys or someone grabbed them as they left,” he said.
And because city administrators shared the building, city records and paperwork were also lost in the fire.