Fire damaged the inside of a car dealership early Wednesday morning in New Baden.
Multiple fire, ambulance and police crews responded to the fire at the Hanover Automotive Sales, along Illinois 161. The business used to be Kehrer Chevrolet but is now a used-car dealership at 501 W. Hanover St.
New Baden Fire Chief Matthew Flanagan said the cause of the fire was under investigation, but there was nothing to suggest it was suspicious. Flanagan said no one was inside the business at the time of the fire and no one was injured.
Crews arrived at the business about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday and quickly contained the fire. Some damage was seen inside toward the front of the building.
“We were called out to a building full of smoke — smoke coming out of the eaves, no flames showing at the time. When we showed up on scene, there was heavy smoke,” Flanagan said. “We gained access to the building, and it was contained to an area in the front of the building. We were able to extinguish it, and now we’re just performing all the cleanup and overhaul to check for any extension to everything and get the building all aired out for smoke damage so we can finally do all of the assessments.”
As a precaution, the chief said the state fire marshal’s office would be contacted because it was a commercial structure fire.
Mascoutah, Clin-Clair and Sugar Creek fire departments helped New Baden firefighters and EMS. New Baden Police Department, Illinois State Police and St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office also responded.
According to online records from the Illinois Secretary of State, the car business is owned by Joseph M. Kehrer. Kehrer also is an owner of Kehrer Brothers Construction Inc., which is based in Albers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a fine of $1.8 million to Kehrer’s construction company last year for allegedly bringing in Mexican workers to remove asbestos without safety gear from a school that was being demolished in Okawville.
Kehrer’s attorney, Clyde Kuehn, has said his client is contesting the allegations. Kehrer could not be reached Wednesday for comment. Kuehn said Wednesday he had no information about the fire.