Springfield Fire: Old factory under ‘unsafe structure policy’ prior to fires

A Springfield Fire Division official said the Cooper Energy Services property was, “on their radar for quite some time,” prior to two fires breaking out at the property, including one last weekend.

Springfield Fire Division Assistant Chief Matt Smith said the building is under their “unsafe structure policy.”

“That means we do not make entry. We don’t enter the building at all unless we have verified information on someone being inside,” Smith said.

A large fire broke out at Cooper Energy Services, located at 1401 Sheridan Ave. in Springfield, at around 6 p.m. on Friday. It burned for a few hours before anyone even noticed it, Smith said, and firefighters had to fight the blaze from the outside because the roof collapsed.

More: Suspicious fire rekindles at former Cooper Energy in Springfield

“This is a very large complex - 17 separate buildings that were interconnected over 100 years,” Smith said.

On Saturday morning, the fire rekindled, and light smoke was seen coming from the building. Smith said there was still a little bit of fire underneath the collapsed material so crews on scene put the fire out as it flared back up.

The property is owned by Mosier Industrial, a company out of Crestline, Ohio. A representative with the company declined Tuesday to comment about the fire at Cooper Energy.

Mosier also owns the Crowell-Collier complex in downtown Springfield.

That complex caught fire in 1999 and again in 2011. The remaining 400,000-square-feet of buildings is slated to be completely demolished by around Christmas time, demolition crews tasked with destroying the monster buildings said.

More: Plans unclear for Crowell-Collier site in Springfield after demolition

Springfield resident Paul Patton said the weekend’s fires only highlight that something needs to be done with the buildings. He said the complex is dangerous, especially for the little kids in the neighborhood surrounding it.

“A lot of little kids live around here. They can go back in here easy. Little holes you can just go squeeze through and go get hurt,” Patton said.

Patton said the appearance of the building isn’t helpful either.

“It just makes the neighborhood look bad because there isn’t anybody doing nothing. All the weeds grown up,” Patton said. “A lot of trash, everything looks bad. It brings down the property value for people around here.”

While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Smith said Friday the site has, “a high degree of suspicion.”

The Springfield News-Sun is committed to providing coverage of safety concerns within Clark and Champaign County.

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