City of Collinsville recovers from fire

Monday, December 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The City of Collinsville is operating out of makeshift headquarters - trying to recover from a weekend fire that destroyed City Hall. Collinsville's historic City Hall also housed the Police and Fire Departments.

News on Six reporter Tami Marler says luckily, most of the city's records were computerized - so very little was lost in that regard.

Operations are set up at an annex right across the street, also at the local senior center. But it will be hard to replace the real thing. "You know in the old days these were big wood doors." Collinsville Fire Chief Russell Young has a lot of good memories in the Central Fire Station. He worked there for nearly twenty years. “There was a lot of sentimental value and stuff; you know setting on the truck and watching it and thinking about the stuff that went on, the Christmas parties you know."

But on Saturday, Young took charge of a fire that destroyed the station where he worked his way through the ranks. Monday workers sift through debris to salvage whatever they can, and assess the extent of the damage. The lower floors were mostly damaged by smoke and water; the upper floors virtually destroyed by the fire. "You know to be honest with you nobody really thought probably we were going to have anything. We got here and knew it was more detailed so there were some things that I needed." Thinking the call wouldn't take long, Chief Young left some things at home; so he called his mom.

"And he wanted me to get his cell phone for him, and he asked me to call the city manager and I did. And that's what I did before I came on down." Fern Young is Collinsville's City Clerk and Treasurer. She's been with City Hall longer than any of her co-workers. They're working out of an annex building for the time being. "City staff has worked overtime, double time in trying to get us to this point, and they've done a wonderful job. I hope I will be able to actually operate off of computer systems again; in the meantime it's going to be the old-fashioned paper way."

It's up to structural engineers to determine whether the building can even be saved. "I think the people of the city want to see us rebuild there - if at all possible."

Structural engineers will go through the building Tuesday. In the meantime, police operations and some city offices will be just across the street at the City Hall Annex. City Administrative offices are at the Senior Center at 10th and Center.

Police, fire and ambulance services are all back up and running. And residents can also count on 911 service.