O’Fallon firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire at Peel Wood Fired Pizza and Brewery on Sunday afternoon. Fire damaged a significant portion of the back of the building, which sits at the corner of First Street and South Cherry Street.
Tim Claxton, incident commander with the O’Fallon Fire Department, said they first received a call from Peel at 1:21 p.m.
“The crew inside the store said they noticed some smoke conditions. Some of it was coming into the building and they didn’t know where it was coming from. After they stuck their head out the door, they realized there was a fire in the back of the building, so they activated their alarm system and began evacuations,” Claxton said.
Employees at Peel attempted to put the fire out themselves with a dry powder extinguisher and a garden hose, but it had already extended to the exterior of the building.
“When our companies arrived we noticed the fire conditions on the outside of the building on the first and second floor. Evacuations were still in progress and we made sure they were completed. Once those we’re completed, the fire activated the sprinkler system on the upstairs second floor where it penetrated the building. That kept the fire from spreading further into the building, so sprinkler systems do work. So our first priority was to knock down the heaviest amount of fire on the backside of the budding. Then we went inside and we had to tear apart the walls to get to where the fire was trapped inside the attic spaces,” Claxton said.
Firefighters had trouble completely putting out the fire due to multiple layers of old siding on the building.
“It’s not atypical that the core of the building, the older core of the building, is brick, along with three or four layers of siding attached to that. So the fire does tend to find its way down into that. Most of those use some sort of glue, adhesive, tar, paper, to keep them adhered. That makes it more difficult because that makes it burn more readily,” Claxton said.
Fire fighters continued to remove siding and tiles well into the afternoon to find where the charring stopped, so they could know the fire was fully contained.
“Our goal is to make sure it doesn’t light up again. There’s never a guarantee. Fire can find every hidden spot there is,” said Claxton.
Claxton said there was a lot of interior damage from water and smoke, but that sprinklers contained the fire to the rear wall of the building.
“The sprinkler system stopped anything from getting past the back wall. It did exactly what it was supposed to do,” he said.
Officials with Peel had no immediate comment, stating at the time they were still unaware as to exactly what happened and what their next steps would have to be.
Fairview Heights, Troy, and Lebanon fire departments assisted O’Fallon on the scene. The Mascoutah fire department manned one of the O’Fallon stations and the Scott AFB fire department was placed on stand by at their station in case any other fires started in O’Fallon.
While firefighters were dealing with Peel, another dumpster did catch on fire further down Second Street, behind Steven Mueller Florist.
An employee with Steven Mueller Florist reported to the Weekly that they had not placed anything all day into their dumpster, which is located at the opposite end of the block from Peel. Firefighters were quickly able to extinguish it with no issue.