A huge blaze Tuesday night destroyed at least one building and dozens of old vehicles at Country Classic Cars near old Route 66 near Staunton, Illinois.
The Macoupin County Sheriff’s Office told KSDK-TV in St. Louis that 11 fire departments were battling the blaze, which apparently started shortly before sundown.
No injuries were reported. Country Classic Cars closes at 5 p.m., so no workers were there during the fire.
Here’s video taken from when the fire raged:
The fire reportedly was brought under control by 9:40 p.m., although the fire still was burning in spots late Tuesday.
KPLR-TV in St. Louis reported from the scene shortly after the fire was knocked down:
The station said between 100 to 150 old cars were in that building that included a repair shop.
More than 600 old cars are parked on the massive lot.
A column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch barely two weeks ago told about how Russell Noel, a local farmer, took his classic-car hobby and turned it into a full-blown business about 20 years ago on an Interstate 55 frontage road very close to old Route 66 south of Staunton.
Top price on the latest inventory is $69,950 for a light blue, air-conditioned 1954 Cadillac Eldorado convertible showing fewer than 23,000 miles. On the low end, you can get a green 1978 Jaguar XJ6 for $750 if you don’t mind that it has no motor. The same money would buy an orange 1973 Fiat Spyder convertible that “ran when parked.”
Many are “as is” collectibles, not ordinary used cars. A few buyers drive them right off the lot, although Russell discourages that, pending a mechanical examination. One woman bought a Volkswagen that stalled after only a mile. (Russell towed it back and fixed the minor issue for free.)
UPDATE: Here’s a video this morning from KSDK in St. Louis:
The fire’s cause remains unknown.
UPDATE2: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted a good follow-up story about the fire.
Owner Russ Noel, 73, stood outside the scorched property the next day and wiped his eyes with a handkerchief.
“They just don’t make them like that any more,” he said, standing in front of the crumpled building with rows of burnt vehicles.
Noel opened the business in 1999 after spending most of his career as a hay farmer near Edwardsville. Now he simply plans to carry on with the hundreds of undamaged cars he has left.
“I think we’re going to open again tomorrow,” he said. “It’s no hill for a climber.”
UPDATE 8/27/2017: The Springfield State Journal-Register reports Country Classic Cars reopened within a day after the fire and is planning to rebuild.
(Image of the Country Classic Cars fire near Staunton, Illinois, by Macoupin County Illinois Scanner Page via Facebook)