The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

November 23, 2010

UPDATE: Blaze destroys building

FULTON, Ill. — Fire officials are working this morning to determine the cause of two fires that happened in Fulton on Tuesday night, one that destroyed a home and another that gutted a large downtown Fulton building.

The downtown building, located at the corner of Fourth Street and 10th Avenue, houses four apartments, one of which is downstairs and three on the second floor. The storefront is home to a hospice agency and Wagner Pharmacy. The building also formerly housed a grocery store, known as Bud's Foodliner, for many years. Fulton Deputy Fire Chief Boyd Van Dellen said this morning that it appears everyone who lived in the apartments are accounted for, confirming that two people were rescued from the building’s second floor shortly after the blaze broke out.

Firefighters were called to the scene shortly before 7 p.m., about a half hour after another fire destroyed a home at Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue.

Firefighters on Tuesday night said there were injuries in the downtown fire, but could not say how many were transported to the hospital.

Justin Kiger, a Fulton resident, said he was in downtown Fulton within view of the building when he saw smoke. He also noticed two young adults hanging out of an upper story window. Kiger said firefighters climbed a ladder to get to the two people. Kiger said one of the victims fainted but both were brought to safety.

Steve Frederick, the building's maintenance man, stood across the street from the burning structure alongside dozens of other residents who turned out to see the fire. He said all four apartments in the building were rented out and that he was providing updates by telephone to the building's owner, Bill Blecha, who was driving to Fulton from New York.

Frederick's mother, Becky Frederick, lives in an upper apartment in the middle of the burning block. She said she was at her job at DM Services in Clinton when she received a call that the building was on fire. She was not able to go into the building to retrieve belongings; she stood across the street waiting to see what would happen to the place she has called home for the past three years.

Tim Wright, president of Wagner Pharmacy, said this morning that business still will work to service customers’ needs from its other locations.

“We at Wagner Pharmacy Co are very saddened to have lost our newest location in Fulton due to the recent fire,” he said. “To see to it that none of our clientele experience a lapse in service, we would like to remind them that we will still be able to serve them from our Clinton locations within Medical Associates and downtown in the Van Allen Building. We also offer same day prescription delivery to Fulton free of charge. Our commitment to the people of Fulton continues despite our loss, and our search for a new home begins immediately."

 Firefighters from throughout the region were on hand to assist Fulton, with departments coming from Clinton, Camanche, Low Moor, Andover and Sabula and the Illinois towns of Albany, Thomson, Savanna, Mount Carroll, Prophetstown, Cordova, Erie, Chadwick and Morrison. Assistance also was provided at the scene by Medic Ambulance from Mercy Medical Center and other fire departments from throughout the region, since they moved in to cover for other department that were called to the scene. Van Dellen said both Hillsdale and Port Byron fire departments were involved in the move ups.

Van Dellen said the cold weather caused problems by creating icy streets and the loss of power in the downtown area meant that power was cut to pump stations. The multiple fire departments on the scene brought in tanker trucks to haul water, staging at locations and then moving up as needed.

Fire reports indicated the fire was under control around 12:30 a.m. today, with firefighters remaining at the scene dousing the structure with water this morning. Van Dellen said a neighboring building most likely has fire and water damage, but firefighters were able to control the flames so that they did not spread down the block.

Many residents live in apartments above the downtown businesses, leading volunteers from the Gateway Area Chapter of the American Red Cross to the scene Tuesday evening to ensure fire victims’ emergency needs were met.

Amber Wood, executive director of the Gateway Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, said basic human needs such as a place to stay, food to eat, necessary medications or health items, and clothes to wear are provided by the Red Cross first. Red Cross mental health counselors are also available to assist the fire victims and their families.

The Red Cross also provided hot coffee, a warm place to go, food, and comfort. With numerous area fire departments responding to the fire, the Red Cross worked with several local agencies and businesses to support the emergency responders, and the city’s Council Chambers  and the Old Fulton Fire Station were set up as warming centers.

Food, coffee, water, and other supplies were provided by the Gateway Faith Fellowship, the Comfort Inn in Fulton, Shell Oil in Fulton, and HyVee, McDonald’s, Pizza Ranch, Wendy’s and Mama Cimino’s, all of Clinton.

 To help victims of the fire, people can make a financial contribution to the American Red Cross by calling 242-5223 or mailing a check to Box 1565, Clinton, IA 52733-1565. Individuals interested in being a part of the Red Cross team should call the Gateway Area Chapter or visit www.gatewayredcross.org to learn more about volunteering.

Go to the Clinton Herald Facebook page to see video of the fire.

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