Cause of lumber yard fire revealed

Smoke could be seen from miles away during a massive fire in a Beardstown lumber yard Tuesday morning.

A storage facility that houses lumber at Rich Hardwoods Inc., located at 8727 Arenzville Rd., caught fire just after 9 a.m.

Beardstown Fire Chief Darin Paul says his department believes the fire began sometime around 7:45 a.m. after employees had finished using a cutting torch to remove steam pipes within the building. He says more than likely, something sparked onto nearby wood framing and began smoldering before the fire erupted.

"Never experienced anything like this before. Fifth generation in the hardwood business and we've never had a fire," Danny Rich, the owner said. "A secretary in the office saw one of the employees run out of the building with a fire extinguisher and she said, 'we got a fire.' So we jumped up and got out and by that time, it was going pretty good."

"We looked up and saw the smoke coming over the top of it and he ran to see if he could do anything with a fire extinguisher and as soon as he got to the door, he stopped and we knew then to call the fire department. Before they even got here, we had flames shooting through the ceiling," Kevin Dennis, an employee at Rich Hardwoods Inc. said.

More than two dozen firefighters from numerous fire companies surrounding Beardstown responded to the blaze.

"We arrived on scene to see flames coming out of the center building, out of the roof, I'd say flames blowing 50 feet in the air. They were big," Paul said.

"It's amazing that they were able to save the adjoining buildings. There's a little bit of damage to the south building," said Rich.

Fortunately, the neighboring structure which stores the lumber dry kilns was not damaged.

"That's the core of our business so that's a blessing," Rich said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Paul said this was the biggest fire he's ever combated during his time with the Beardstown Fire Department.

There were no injuries reported.