EGFPD battles structure fire last night.
One killed, one hospitalized with burns after Eureka house fire Tuesday night Wednesday Posted at 1:46 PM Share By Matt Buedel Journal...
By Shane Gustafson | email@example.com
Published 10/09 2016 10:16AM
Updated 10/09 2016 10:16AM
It was a drill two and a half years in the making, an orchestrated natural disaster in Woodford County.
"We are in the top counties in the state for the number of tornadoes that have happened and the number of tornadoes per square mile,” said Kent McCanless, Woodford County EMA Director.
First responders from towns all over the county worked together to save 22 volunteer victims from a planned “tornado” event at Eureka College.
It's skills crews have had to put to the test before.
"The only difference between Washington and Woodford County is seven miles, and that could very easily happen here,” McCanless said.
"We saw things that went great for them, we saw things that did not go great for them,” said Woodford County Sheriff Matt Smith.
Washington's tornado in 2013 was still in the minds of emergency crews practicing Saturday.
"We realized very quick that when you have a disaster such as that, you're going to need the help from other agencies and other entities,” said Eureka Mayor, Scott Punke.
The drill had an operations center for experienced emergency responders, but also for those who are training.
"You kind of understand what people are going through in the back of your mind, you you're like, okay, I know this person is telling the truth,” said ICC Student, Matthew Plack.
All responders say getting out in the field helps make these situations more manageable.
"The more you plan, the more you prepare and the more you get out there, the more of a chance you have to save lives,” McCanless said.
"Those plans need to be on paper, in the book, right here ready to go,” said Sheriff Smith.
The training was evaluated by the Illinois emergency management agency
An explosion at Grainland Co-Op in Woodford County gave a scare first thing this morning. Reports say it sounded like dynamite. Debris was found up to 400 yards away. No employees were on the scene when the explosion happened, so there are no injuries.
Just after six A.M this morning, the Eureka Fire Department was called out to what they thought was a dryer fire, but ended up being an explosion. Eureka Fire Chief, Craig Neal, alarmed the surrounding towns to come in and help with water supply and manpower.
"We had roughly eight departments in the area and roughly fifty firefighters on scene," says Chief Neal.
New technology helped firefighters with damage assessments which couldn't be possible in the past.
"We are utilizing a drone, so we are able to get aerial shots and closer footage. We are passing that information along, " says Chief Neal.
It's clear to see extensive structural damage when looking at the images. A lot of equipment was wrecked, leaving farmers without much for harvest season which could be costly.
General Manager of Grainland Co-Op says," If we're not able to take the grain here they will have to take it to another local elevator in the area, and they are going to be taxed with the amount of volume. Will they be able to keep up too?"
Chief Neal says the fire was under control within a couple of minutes, but they are continuing to stay on scene. Due to long hours, the firefighters were supported by the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army which provided lunch and drinks to the officials.
Chief Neal says the fire isn't the only thing they are concerned about with the explosion. "We're staying close to 200 to 300 feet away from the structure at this time in case of a collapse. Ameren's aware of what's going on here and they have a plan in place. We do have 69 thousand volt lines that are coming through here."
Most of the actual grain housed in the bin was not damaged, but it will need some cleaning. Brooks says over a thousand farmers are affected by the explosion. So far, the cause of the explosion has not been determined.