Metro-East News

Fire destroys truck inside Millstadt hardware store

The fire that destroyed a truck parked inside the attached rear storage building at Lee’s Home Center in Millstadt filled the building with smoke and caused minor damage Friday night.

Millstadt firefighters responded to the business at 1 S. Illinois St. at 6:47 p.m. Friday and dispatched the Columbia Fire Department for help shortly after arriving. According to Millstadt Fire Chief Kurt Pellmann, arriving firefighters saw heavy smoke and, when they opened one of the large garage doors leading into the storage area, saw a fire confined to a boom truck that was parked in the western part of the building.

“The truck’s shot,” Pellmann said.

The fire did not spread from the truck, but Pellmann said Columbia firefighters were perched atop ladders ready to douse the building from above just in case. The eastern portion of the building, which houses the retail space, was unaffected by the fire.

Firefighters believe the lone casualty was the boom truck. The only other damage was minor smoke damage to some of the shingles, drywall and lumber stored inside.

Mary Braner, co-owner of the store, said a woman who lives across Washington Street from the business saw smoke and called 911.

“Black smoke was coming out of all three bay doors,” Braner said. “When they opened the doors you could see the ball of flame back in the corner. They got it put out before it spread any further.”

Braner said firefighters were quick to limit the damage the fire did because they were prepared.

“A while back, the fire department came down on one of their training nights and they walked around to have a plan if anything would ever happen like this,” Braner said. “I think they handled it really well tonight.”

Northwest St. Clair County Fire District personnel stood by at Millstadt’s fire station to cover for the crews fighting the fire.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Tobias Wall: 618-239-2501, @Wall_BND