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Downtown buildings cleaning up from fire

Fire destroyed the Carter Jewelers Co. building, but it’s the water used to douse the flames that’s causing problems next door.

The former jewelry store at 12 N. Fountain Ave. was a total loss after flames ripped through it early Sunday. The fire remains under investigation, but it’s believed it began inside.

There was electric service to the building, but no drywall or plaster inside which accelerated the blaze, Springfield Assistant Fire Chief Brian Miller said.

Firefighters used water conservatively while dousing hot spots, Miller said, trying to limit the water damage to nearby buildings. Still about three inches of water gathered in the basement of the Bushnell Building next door, damaging wood floors, carpeting, baseboards and drywall, building owner Jim Lagos said.

“Water frequently causes more damage than fire itself. It came down through the foundation and into the room here,” he said, gesturing to the banquet halls that were buzzing with fans Monday morning. “We’re trying to dry everything out.”

Matthew Rado, who maintains the building, replaced about 50 air filters, mostly on the fourth floor, due to the large amount of smoke sucked into the ventilation system. The filters likely reduced the threat of smoke damage inside the Bushnell, he said.

Some smoke damage and soot build-up occurred on the exterior bricks and windows on the Fountain Avenue side, which Lagos said will require some scrubbing to fix.

Lagos didn’t indicate the cost of the damage, but said the building is insured and will be covered under that policy. No events were scheduled for the hall until Saturday and Lagos said at least one of the basement rooms should be ready for use by then.

After hearing about the fire, Lagos said he “had a heart attack” and feared the worst, but was glad the damage was minimal to the building he called his third child.

“I have my two daughters and I have the Bushnell Building,” he said. “My wife and I spent a lot more money on this building than I have on our children.”

Much of the former Carter building has been demolished and a temporary metal fence has been placed around it until the debris can be removed.

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