JOLIET - A Friday morning fire destroyed more than half of a Joyce Road commercial building used at least partially for storage.
The building in the 600 block of Joyce Road is in a business park off of McDonough Street.
"It was all smoke," said Brad Hamilton, who lived in an apartment in the building and was outside headed to his small engine repair shop nearby when he saw the smoke at about 6 a.m. "I opened the door and saw all the smoke. I called 911. I figured they could get it under control pretty quick. I was wrong."
The fire broke into the roof area and spread quickly when firefighters arrived, said Joliet Battalion Chief Laroy Aldridge.
"When we got here, we had fire in the front," Aldridge said. "Then it self-vented into the roof, and away it went."
But firefighters saved a large section of the building and the equipment inside when they sawed into the structure and created a trench cut that allowed the fire to ventilate. The building is an L-shaped structure set off from Joyce Road.
The building is attached to the offices of American Maintenance & Landscaping Inc. No one from that business was immediately available to comment.
Aldridge said the building is divided into what appeared to be business condominiums. It was not clear whether those condominiums were still in use. But the likelihood that there were closed doors or walls in sections of the building may have stopped it from spreading faster, he said.
The cause of the fire and what caused it to spread so quickly was under investigation. Aldridge said the equipment in the building, which included lawn mowers, may have contributed to the blaze.
About 60 percent of the building was destroyed by the fire, Aldridge said.
Hamilton's business, Hamilton's Small Engine Repair, is in a separate building and was not touched by the fire, he said. Lawn mowers and other equipment brought to him for repairs was in his building, Hamilton said.
"Nothing's destroyed," Hamilton said, noting he was concerned about mowers that were in his shop. "Nobody's equipment is destroyed at all."
Hamilton's apartment was also destroyed in the fire. It was not clear whether the fire started in the apartment or in the storage area of the building.
Hamilton said he would look for another place to sleep Friday night but, "As soon as they (firefighters) are cleared out, I'm going back to work. Let everybody know, I'm back to 18 hours a day."