Fire destoys couple's home and business

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ill. - We have continuing coverage on the massive building fire we first told you about Thursday. Kornbread Junction, as it's called, is located in Johnson County, Illinois. It doubled as both a dinner theater and the home of Phil and Rose Morris. Friday we heard from them for the first time.

The fire broke out Thursday. The couple was home at the time.

Phil Morris said he heard an explosion then saw smoke. When firefighters got there, flames were shooting through the roof.

Friday, crews were back on the scene putting out hotspots and using a foam and water mixture to make sure the fire didn't rekindle. The state fire marshal was there too, taking pictures.

Now, the man who called that dinner theater his labor of love is looking to others for help getting back on his feet.

All Phil Morris can do is pace. The trucks and hoses, he's familiar with them.

"I was on the fire department for six years," he said.

But he never knew, one day they'd be parked at his Kornbread Junction.

"I've helped carry bodies out. I've seen a lot of tragedies. Now I know how it feels to be on the other side," he said.

Thursday's fire gutted the dinner theater he and his wife have owned since 1999. They lived in a connected apartment and had seconds to escape.

"We just barely got out," he said.

Morris said they used to host shows frequently but pared down the schedule. Many of them were benefits; fund-raisers for others.

They'd recently redone the stage with the hope of getting back to it.

"Semi-retired, thought I'd live here from now on," said Morris.

The fire didn't spare much.

"I was a railroad collector. I have a lot of railroad memorabilia. It's all gone, but I got to enjoy it for 50 years," he said.

Morris said he's grateful for the memories and his life, which at 70-years old all changed in an instant.

"You think you've got everything you need. And you wake up the next morning, and all you've got is what you've got on," said Morris.

The Vienna Assistant Fire Chief said, at this time, the fire does not look suspicious.

The Morris family did have insurance, but right now they are without everything.

Bailey Funeral Home in Vienna, Illinois is accepting donations of clothing, household items and cash. The funeral home is located at 705 North First Street. The mailing address is P.O. Box 695, Vienna, Illinois, 62995.

Their phone number is (618) 658-2311.

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