Fire destroys downtown Pinckneyville apartment

As many as 10 people are now homeless after a late-night fire destroyed their downtown apartment building.

Fire crews from multiple communities responded, forcing Illinois routes 13, 154, and 127 to temporarily close.

As the cleanup continues in downtown Pinckneyville, the state fire marshal is trying to determine what caused the fire at the apartment complex.  

Wendell Spann, who lived there, says, had it not been for the quick thinking of a sheriff’s deputy, things could have turned out much worse.

“I hadn’t been asleep any more than 10 minutes,” Spann says. “I heard bang, bang, bang on the door. I opened the door, and there was a deputy screaming ‘Get out; your building is on fire.'”

Though he didn’t smell any smoke, Spann says he quickly put on clothes and got out of his apartment..

“I went around the back of the building, and I saw fire shooting out of the third floor above my apartment. So, I didn’t really know what to do,” Spann says. “It wasn’t long, and the entire roof was in flames. We just stood here in the rain and watched.”

After escaping with only the clothes on his back, Spann says he felt helpless watching his world go up in flames.

“I’ve lost everything,” Spann says. “I’m trying to get back in, but we’ll just see. I want to thank everybody for their prayers and offers to help. It means a lot. I have a lot of good friends, so we’ll do good.”

While the apartments are a total loss, the old Courtside Restaurant there may be salvageable. But crews say they need to get inside and check the structural integrity of the wall.

The Red Cross has paid for rooms for those displaced by the fire through Friday.

Pinckneyville Mayor Robert Spencer says the city will do all it can to help these families get back on their feet.

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