The cause of a fire that destroyed dozens of vintage cars and a large building last month at Country Classic Cars near Staunton, Illinois, remains undetermined, but a new report reveals one possibility.
An insurance-industry publication called Claims Journal this week reported interesting facts about the blaze:
— The fire destroyed a total of 143 cars in a 530-foot-long warehouse, along with the office and gift shop. Another six cars near the warehouse sustained smoke damage.
— Country Classic Cars owner Russ Noel said he owned 95 percent of the destroyed cars; the rest were on consignment.
— Authorities traced the fire to one of five cars in the middle of the warehouse. Noel said when a car arrives to be sold at the business, the first step is to disconnect the battery. He acknowledged that may have been overlooked. That leaves open the possibility of an electrical malfunction starting the fire.
— The gutted cars and debris were removed within weeks. Noel plans to begin rebuilding the structure this month.
— Noel didn’t say reveal the total loss. His insurer declined to comment to the magazine. The loss was conservatively estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A total of 11 fire departments battled the blaze, which apparently began shortly before sundown after Country Classic Cars had closed for the day.
News reports stated Country Classic Cars had more than 600 vehicles before the fire. A count of its inventory Thursday totaled just under 500.