Downtown Mt. Morris building site of 3rd-alarm structure fire Tuesday, no injuries

'Everybody is accounted for and got out of the building'


MT. MORRIS — There were no injuries to occupants or firefighters after a third-alarm structure fire at a downtown Mt. Morris building Tuesday afternoon, Mt. Morris Fire Chief Rob Hough said. 

First responders were called at approximately 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to 9 E. Main St. in Mt. Morris for the report of a possible structure fire. 

"I arrived on scene and saw heavy fire venting out of the front window of an occupancy on the corner," Hough said at around 5 p.m. Tuesday. "Companies then arrived on scene. With the wind, the age of the building and its construction, the fire grew rapidly. We escalated it to a third alarm mutual aid box alarm to bring in resources from the area. The fire is under control at this time. There were no injuries to firefighters or occupants. Everybody is accounted for and got out of the building. We don't have a cause of the fire at this time."

Hough said there were occupants in the building when the fire started, but they were all evacuated safely. He said the age of the building could be over 125 years old, which complicated things for firefighters along with weather. 

"It's an aged structure," Hough said. "You have hidden voids. There were different types of construction back then. It's balloon-framed, which allows fire to spread quickly. It was a wind-driven fire. We had wind out of the southeast today gusting at 20-25 miles per hour. The cards were stacked against us. It was during the day when a lot less firefighters are available. It's just the perils of a small-town fire department."

Hough said a monetary damage estimate and cause of the fire were still unclear. Fire crews from Mt. Morris, Oregon, Polo, Forreston and Lanark were seen at the site of the fire on Tuesday. 

"A day like today takes a lot out of firefighters," Hough said. "That's part of the job. We have a great mutual aid system. We rapidly escalated the mutual aid box alarm system to bring resources in from all of our neighboring communities. It's a pretty flawless system. Our companies worked well together. It's what we do. We all help each other out."