DeKALB – Due to persistent hot spots, DeKalb firefighters have had to return several times to what's left of Standard Roofing Company's building on South Seventh Street since it was ravaged by fire four days ago.
"What we have are just areas around the building that we can't get into that our hoses will not reach," DeKalb Fire Chief Jeff McMaster said. "And then there's also areas along the roof line where it's wood that was part of the roofing structure."
All that remains of the longtime DeKalb business, owned by multiple generations of the Theisen family since 1961, is the four outer walls after the fire Friday left the building unfit to enter, an almost $1 million loss. Dozens of firefighters from 10 neighboring agencies, led by DeKalb firefighters, worked for three hours to get the fire under control. It took them until about 3 a.m. Saturday to leave the scene.
The location provided many challenges for the firefighters, including fallen power lines, a large amount of combustible material inside, flammable liquids, hazardous materials and the compromised building structure. The fire started about 6:50 p.m., but it had spread by the time firefighters arrived and flames could be seen shooting through the roof. The cause has not yet been determined.
The building was deemed too dangerous to enter even for firefighters, and the four outer walls will likely collapse or be razed, McMaster said.
"No matter how much we hose it down," McMaster said. "It reignites after a while because we can't get at these hot spots because the building is compromised."
He said in the days since firefighters have returned to the building to staunch stubborn embers at least six times.