A fire broke out in the attic of Kornbread Junction on Tunnel Hill Road sometime after 1 p.m. today and brought the building to the ground.
No injuries were reported.
No official report is available at this time, but it is believed to have been electrically induced as the owner, Phill Morris, said he heard a “loud pop” in the attic and a short time later he “smelled hot air” as the fire began. Morris said he was home with his wife, Rose Morris, and their dog Cuz, a five-year old boxer, and upon smelling smoke called the fire department.
“I went back in twice looking for Cuz,” Morris said. “When the fire broke out I was mostly concerned with Cuz because my wife and I could not find him.”
Morris said he re-entered the burning building twice searching for Cuz before it was realized the boxer was outside.
“Our smoke alarms were going off once the fire was out of control, but the power was already out shortly before we realized there was a fire upstairs,” Morris said. “When it first started, I smelled hot air and I said to Rose, ‘The place is on fire.'”
Vienna Fire Chief Aaron Goldstein said he could not officially comment on the cause of the fire as the investigation would not begin until the scene was secured.
“The response went well,” Goldstein said of the departments arriving to the call. “In our area we rely on each other and we work well with each other.”
Goldstein said Lake Egypt, Goreville, Carrier Mills, New Burnside and Vienna fire departments all responded to today’s fire. Water trucks were moving in and out of the scene as water availability was the only hiccup in the fire fighting efforts.
Lake Egypt Fire District volunteer firefighters Stephen Graeber and Brandon Boaz were waiting for water half-way through the efforts to contain the blaze and said the tanker trucks were “doing their best to keep up.”
Volunteer firefighter Ryder Crites, of Lake Egypt Fire District, said his tanker had already made more than four trips, each hauling 2,500 gallons of water, and he guessed the tanker would be needed for “several more.” Crites said Johnson County firefighters have kept busy this past month with Lake Egypt Fire District responding to recent fires in Carterville and Vienna in which older structures have burned to the ground.
Lake Egypt Fire District Fire Chief Kirby Crites said the fire was still trapped under the metal roofing material that had collapsed in upon itself and that it would keep the crews busy for a while longer after the initial blaze was put down.
Morris and his wife, who escaped with only the clothes that they were wearing, said he was in contact with his insurance agency and that they would help obtain a place for the two to stay. Morris said his grandson, Timmy Morris, was staying in an apartment in the building as well. Timmy Morris said he arrived home shortly after the fire begun and that he too lost his possessions in the fire. The structure was at one time a bed and breakfast which Morris purchased in 1999. Morris said he had many antiques in the structure he hated to lose, but was thankful no one was hurt.
Kornbreak Junction, at 1645 Tunnel Hill Road, is responsible for hosting musicals, plays and parties throughout each year and was scheduled to host four different programs with the first to begin April 18. Morris said he and those in the upcoming performance were scheduled to rehearse tonight, “but it and the shows will have to be canceled.”