It was a costly fire for the Hoopeston Fire Department, according to Chief Cliff Crabtree. In the end, the department had to replace 18 sets of firefighter gear and 4,000 feet of different sized hose that was damaged in the fire.
The final price tag: more than $150,000.
But for a young department with a majority of personnel with less than 10 years of experience, Crabtree said the fire provided an opportunity as well.
“Every fire is a learning experience,” he said. “They learned a lot in a hurry those days.”
While the flames are gone and the structure leveled as of this fall, questions about the effects of the fire remain.
Because of the burning tires and the effect on the ground and water supply, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency became involved soon after the blaze was first reported.
Crusinberry said the City of Hoopeston contacted the IEPA earlier in December about when the property would be released by the state agency’s control. So far, city officials have not gotten a final answer from the state.
“There were a few more things to do before they released it from their control,” he said.
Among those are boring into the ground to check the status of soil at the site of the fire and looking at cleaning sediment at the bottom of a retention pond where water used to fight the fire drained to from the site of the blaze.
Crusinberry said the owner, Rodney Rogers, has contacted Hoopeston city officials about making the large property available to the city for storage. But he said Hoopeston, at this point, is not in need of outdoor storage.