At least 120 firefighters from more than 30 different Quad-City fire departments — and water from the Hennepin Canal — were needed Wednesday to put out a fire at a large warehouse in rural Henry County.
Firefighters were first called at 3:25 p.m. Wednesday to I-80 Equipment in Colona, Illinois. The site sits near the Interstate 74/80 interchange and a passerby on the interstate noticed the fire.
People were leaving the building when firefighters arrived, said Jeffrey Swan, deputy chief of the Colona Fire Department.
The temperature, with windchill factored in, was 3 degrees as firefighters fought the blaze. Three aerial trucks were involved in fighting the fire, Swan said.
The blaze was not under control until about 9 p.m. Wednesday, Swan said. Firefighters returned at 3 a.m. Thursday and again at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday to tackle several hotspots at the site of the fire.
Mr. Swan said a quick estimate by state fire marshals of the damage was estimated at more than $1 million, including three boom trucks inside the warehouse.
In a news release from the Colona Fire Department, Mr. Swan said the north end of the I-80 Equipment building had an office on the first and second floors. The fire was located in the attic of the building, which was built with metal sheets inside and outside of the structure, he said.
Several dry hydrants in Colona were frozen, forcing firefighters to get water from the Colona water tower, a Geneseo dry hydrant and the Hennepin Canal, Swan said. The Geneseo Fire Department measured that its aerial truck alone used 73,000 gallons of water battling the blaze.
Colona firefighters used the MASBAS Box Alarm system to summon other departments for assistance, Responding departments included Sherrard, Andover, Atkinson, Cleveland, Osco, Moline Air 2nd Alarmers, Eldridge, Greene Township, Bishop Hill, Galva, Rapids City, Andalusia, Rock Island, Hampton, Albany, Genesis Ambulance, Annawan, Geneseo, Black Hawk Fire, Coal Valley, Orion, Cordova, Hillsdale, Silvis, Carbon Cliff-Barstow, Erie, Woodhull, Bettendorf, Riverdale and LeClaire.
Mr. Swan said MetroLINK provided bus service, helping with the rehab of the firefighters on the cold day. The Salvation Army also supplied drinks and food.
On Dec. 6, I-80 Equipment filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the Central Division of Illinois. Court documents state an inspection of collateral in November noted 115 pieces of equipment valued at more than $5 million were missing.
Court documents also state I-80 Equipment obtained a $12 million loan in March 2015 with the sum due by Oct. 23, 2017.