NTPRD looking to rebuild after greenhouse fire

The National Trail Parks and Recreation District is making plans to rebuild a greenhouse after an electrical fire nearly destroyed it over the weekend.

The greenhouse, located behind the park district’s administration offices on Mitchell Boulevard, was primarily used for teaching kids about gardening and developing plants.

The Springfield Fire Rescue Division found the greenhouse engulfed in flames when crews responded to a report of a fire Saturday evening. Assistant Fire Chief Matt Smith said there was heavy smoke in the area of the building.

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“Greenhouses unfortunately tend to go up pretty fast, and there’s not a lot we can do to stop it,” he said.

Smith said there was some fuel in the greenhouse, like straw and wood that may have caused the fire to escalate, but said it could’ve been a lot worse if the district had been storing pesticides in it.

At this point, the fire division says faulty wiring in an exhaust fan is most likely to blame. Smith credits the passerby who initially saw smoke and immediately called 9-1-1.

“That’s always the key is early notification so we can get moving, get on scene and get early water on the fire,” Smith said.

Brad Boyer, deputy director of NTPRD, said the greenhouse was funded by $10,000 grant from the United Way about seven years ago. That money went toward both construction of the greenhouse and programming.

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At this point, he said the only possible part of the greenhouse that’s salvageable is the framing.

Right now, the district is working with its insurance company to find out what repairs will be covered, Boyer said. From there, they’ll look for possible sources of funding to rebuild the greenhouse.

“Hopefully not a large gap of time before we’re able to have the kids back in there and learning again,” Boyer said.

He said he’s grateful the fire didn’t spread. The greenhouse was just steps away from the back of the administration building and and even closer to a newly-built structure funded by a volunteer and houses raised plant beds.

Boyer stressed things can always be replaced.

“The most important part is that nobody was hurt,” he said.

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