MATTOON — More than 24 hours after their initial arrival, Mattoon Fire Department personnel left their post outside the Shores Jewelry building.

The last fire truck arrived back at its home shortly before 10 p.m. Friday and traffic, while restricted, was allowed to travel through the 1600 block of Broadway Avenue.

While the focus Thursday night was to extinguish the blaze that threatened neighboring buildings, the task throughout the day Friday was to determine the structural integrity of the building and to address any hot spots that remained. The ongoing work kept the roadway closed to traffic throughout the day.

While the work at the scene is done for now, the task of determining the fire's cause remains.

Interim Chief Kris Phipps of the Mattoon Fire Department said Friday morning that personnel from the Illinois State Fire Marshal's were on the scene.

Phipps said the timeline of the investigation will depend on the damage.  

"It depends on how deep they can go into the building," he said. 

With an audience of family and others in the community, construction crews, one of whom lived in the upstairs apartments of Shores, spent much of the day tearing off the brick facade of Shores revealing green stone beneath, a remnant of the department store that once stood there.

Among the passersby was Dana Freeman of Mattoon who watched in shock as construction workers hammered away.

Freeman came down to see what would happen with the apartments in adjacent buildings. She said her daughter lived in an adjacent apartment likely ruined by smoke and water damage.

Although the fire did not reach the apartment, Freeman was not hopeful that much if anything could be salvaged.

 "It is just sad," she said. 

Speaking not only of her daughters apartment, Freeman said it was said to see a district hit by this disaster. 

"They worked so hard to revitalize it," she said. 

The fire was reported at 5:37 p.m. Thursday.

"We were here all night," Phipps said, at the scene late Friday morning. He added that Mattoon police officers also were there throughout the night to secure the jewelry store site and the rest of the scene.

The Mattoon Fire Department reported that the first fire crews to arrive at the scene found heavy smoke and fire extension on the third floor of the building. They determined that all occupants had been evacuated from the building.

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Shift Capt. Robert Alexander said Friday night that firefighters were worried initially that they might also lose the two adjacent buildings, in addition to the Shores structure.

"Crews attempted to reach the seat of the fire but could not reach the fire. A defensive attack was initiated, and crews set up master stream devices and attacked the fire from several vantage points. Crews were able to stop the fire from spreading to adjacent structures," the fire department reported.

Morning After Shores Jewelry Building Fire 1 (03/22/19)

The destroyed third floor of the Shores Jewelry building is visible through broken windows late Friday morning in downtown Mattoon following the fire that broke out there Thursday night.

Phipps said the roof the Shores building collapsed onto the third floor, and there was also some collapse onto the second floor. He estimated that there is probably nothing salvageable from the second and third floors. He said this old building was solidly constructed, but has received a lot of strain from the fire and the thousands of gallons of water poured onto it.

No injuries were reported outside of an older bystander that tripped over one of the fire hoses at the scene. 

Two Mattoon Red Cross volunteers and one Charleston volunteer were on scene Thursday night. Valerie Goodwin, a disaster program manager with the Red Cross, stressed they do not compare disasters, noting that for a family a disaster is still a disaster, but said the size and scope of the fire made the situation more involved.  

Several apartment tenants were displaced because of the blaze; however, Goodwin said tenants affirmed to Red Cross personnel on scene that they had options for lodging. 

Goodwin noted tenants might seek assistance from the Red Cross later on, though, as has happened in the past. Shores Jewelry building owner Harold Shores said all of his tenants aside from one had renter's insurance.

The Mattoon Fire Department reported that its crews were assisted by the Charleston Fire Department; Lincoln Fire, Wabash, Neoga, Cooks Mills, Humboldt, Seven Hickory Morgan, and Windsor fire protection districts; Mattoon and Lake Land College police; Mattoon Water Department, Mitchell-Jerdan Ambulance Service; Ameren Illinois; American Red Cross; Mattoon Area Family YMCA; American Legion; and many others.

Mayor Tim Gover said, at the scene late Friday morning, that the city thanks everyone who responded to the fire and assisted in other ways at the scene, such as providing bottled water. He said the community joins together during times of disaster.

"They showed their true colors last night," Gover said.

Harold Shores was realistic about the fate of his building, realizing it will have to come down. 

"The roofs gone. The third floor is gone. The second floor is half burnt," he said. 

Shores expect they will temporarily relocate the business to another space. Shores Jewelry has been at this location since 1985. The business was started in Mattoon in 1948.

"It is very sad," he said watching brick fall from the front of the charred building. "I built the whole building."

PHOTOS: Shores Jewelry Building Fire

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Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @TheRobStroud



Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.


Jarad Jarmon is a reporter for the JG-TC. He covers the city of Charleston, Eastern Illinois University, Mattoon schools and the Regional Office of Education.

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