Petro fire

Effingham Fire Department responding to a call they received at 8:57 for an activated fire alarm with smoke in the building. EFD received a total of 3 calls Monday.

The Effingham County Fire Department responded to three fire calls Monday – two in the city and one near Dieterich. There were no injuries.

At 8:57 a.m., firefighters were called to the scene of a activated fire alarm at the main Petro building that includes the restaurant and convenience store on West Fayette Avenue. Effingham Fire Department Chief Bob Tutko said a problem with one of Ameren’s electric distribution systems caused a motor on top of the main Petro building to malfunction.

“It basically fried the motor, sending smoke through the ventilation system of the truck stop, triggering the alarm,” Tutko said.

Tutko said firefighters had to get up in the ceiling since the motor had melted to make sure there was no fire extension.

“We used a mechanical fan to disburse the smoke from the facility,” Tutko said.

Tutko said since the restaurant in the building was serving food at the time, and smoke entered the building, he was required to call the Effingham County Health Department to the restaurant to make sure the area was clean food sitting out was disposed of before they could reopen.

He said the restaurant resumed operations within an hour.

At 9:11 a.m., the department responded to another activated fire alarm at the Hardee’s restaurant on Fayette Avenue.

Tutko said the Hardee’s incident was similar to Petro. He said upon arrival they shut off the electrical system to the HVAC system and Hardee’s called their mechanical contractor to evaluate the system. Ameren Gas and Electric also arrived on the scene to check on the electrical system.

Tutko said with the department responding to two incidents at the same time they had to bring in paid on-call members since they emptied both fire stations.

“We called in Shumway to stay at the station for us while we were on the scene,” Tutko said. “If there had been a third fire call, Shumway could have handled that call for us.”

EFD cleared the Hardee’s scene at 9:47 a.m. and Petro at 9:50 a.m.

At 6 p.m., Tutko said EFD sent an engine and three firefighters to assist Dieterich with a barn fire.

Dieterich Fire Protection Fire Chief Ross Martin said the barn northwest of Bishop Church was totally engulfed. Martin said he immediately called a full-still, fire bringing mutual aid from EFD, Teutopolis and Montrose to the scene while Watson and Newton manned the fire station.

Martin said they were back at quarters by 8 p.m. He said a total of 40 firefighters responded to the call.

“The barn was a total loss,” Martin said. “And all of the animals got out.”

Charles Mills can be reached at or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.

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Charles Mills is reporter and videographer for the Effingham Daily News. A 1983 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, he worked as senior video editor for a Nashville television station. He is a native of Vandalia.

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