COAL CITY – Firefighters responded Tuesday to a commercial structure fire in Coal City.
Coal City Fire Protection District firefighters were dispatched about 11:09 a.m. to 35 S. Broadway St., according to Lt. Nick Doerfler.
As a result of the incident, portions of Broadway and Division streets were closed for much of the day, but are now open.
The building where the fire occurred houses a hair salon, pool supply store and some vacant spaces on the ground floor and apartments on the second floor, Doerfler said. It was occupied when the blaze began on the second floor near the front of the structure.
Doerfler said there were three people treated on scene for minor injuries.
Though it's suspected the flames did not reach the first floor, Doerfler said smoke and water left the entire building with excessive damage.
He said the cause of the fire is under investigation and likely will remain so for several weeks.
Richard Dean, who lived in Apartment 2 of the six-apartment building, said the fire started in Apartment 1 at the front of the building and spread to the back. Dean said his neighbors in Apartment 1 told him they heard a “boom” and suddenly there was a fire. Dean said the building is very outdated and his neighbors believe the explosion came from a furnace.
When the fire started, Dean was running errands at the post office and grocery store. When he returned, he saw flames atop the building and the front door was already open.
“I dropped my 12-pack of Mountain Dew, ran in and got my dog,” Dean said. “When I touched my apartment door, it was already hot. I opened it and my dog ran out. I had to get her.”
Lil Bit, Dean’s 8-year-old pit bull, was at a friend’s house as of 2 p.m. while Dean tried to figure out where to stay for the night. Apartment 1’s residents also escaped with their pit bull.
Dean estimates he lost about $10,000 worth of tools. He said he didn’t have renter’s insurance.
“You don’t expect something like this to happen,” Dean said.
Doerfler said more than 10 agencies responded to the incident.
McDonald's, which is across the street from the scene, handed out lunch to firefighters about 2:15 p.m.
First responders were anticipated to remain at the site until 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Fighting the fire consumed most of Coal City's water supply, Doerfler said, so agencies tapped into Braidwood's supply through a well. The well water did not enter Coal City's regular water supply.
"Anytime there's a large fire like this, we don't want to completely deplete the water supply," Doerfler said. "So we tap into other resources."
Jeff and Naomi Howard, of Morris, were two of many to watch the blaze from a safe distance. The Howards heard the fire described on a police and fire scanner, jumped in their car and headed to the BP gas station down the street to watch.
"Everybody got out, thank God for that," Naomi Howard said.
• Digital editor Anna Schier contributed to this story.