A building operated by Jan Can Paint Service located at 8 Westwood Drive in Steeleville was destroyed by fire on Friday night.
The building that formerly contained Mary's Variety Shop and was owned by Janice Grimm is a total loss. Multiple fire departments from across the region assisted the Steeleville Fire Department with putting out the blaze, which roared high into the evening sky.
Percy, Chester, Sparta, Campbell Hill, Cutler and Tilden firefighters were all paged for mutual aid to fight the fire. No injuries were reported.
"(The owners) came back and found the building on fire," said Steeleville Assistant Fire Chief Mike Armstrong.
The building was home to Haertling Appliance Center for many years and also housed a Total Fitness gym during its history.
"A fire at Westwood Drive with a possible explosion, that's all we know at this current time," Armstrong said. "We're looking into the cause."
Steeleville Fire Chief Rich Reitz confirmed the fire remains under investigation. A representative with the State Fire Marshal's Office was at the scene on Saturday.
"Sparta's aerial was priceless in something such as this," he said. "You're able to attack the fire more directly other than a deck gun."
Armstrong said the building contained paint and painting equipment, which contributed to the intensity of the fire.
"The fire load was heavy in there, meaning a lot of combustible items," he said.
The fire was reported at 4:18 p.m. and smoke was coming out of all four sides of the building upon firefighters' arrival.
"The fire had such a head start on us, we knew when we pulled up our main concern was AIC," said Armstrong, referring to the adjacent building owned by Advanced Industrial Controls.
Armstrong said firefighters were able to advance a crew in the front door of the Jan Can building and tried to make entry in the back, but the heat and intensity of the fire forced firefighters to retreat and set up a defensive perimeter.
"The main thing is nobody got hurt and all the other buildings are safe," he said.
Steeleville firefighters remained on scene for about three hours. Rick Schroeder, a former firefighter, brought 10 pizzas to the firehouse for first responders.
"We thank him a lot for that," Armstrong said. "We're really fortunate to have the support that we have in the community."