A 2nd alarm box, along with a MABAS Task Force from Division 15 was used.

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Fire causes $2 million in damages
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Arson ruled out in funeral home blaze

By Tamara Sharman tsharman@daily-journal.com815-937-3371

The three-alarm fire that destroyed Clancy-Gernon Funeral Home this morning caused an estimated $2 million in damages, according to Chief Ed St. Louis of the Bourbonnais Fire Protection District.

The structure at 295 Main Street Northwest is a total loss. “The building will come down and be rebuilt,” St. Louis said.

The fire started in the garage, according to St. Louis. At noon, workers were removing heavy air-conditioning units from the damaged roof so that investigators could safely enter without the possibility of the units falling on them.

“No one got hurt in the fire, so we don’t want to get anyone hurt investigating it,” St. Louis explained.

Firefighters hope to know sometime later today what sparked the blaze.

“We’ve already ruled out arson,” St. Louis said.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was called in to help investigate the fire due to the high-dollar loss. Other agencies involved in the investigation are the Kankakee Valley Fire Task Force, the Illinois Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bourbonnais Fire Protection District.

Numerous fire agencies worked to quell the funeral home blaze. Firefighters were dispatched to a garage fire there at 6:31 a.m.

Firefighters removed the body of a funeral home client from the structure at approximately 8:45 a.m. Earlier, the body of at least one additional client, caskets and other equipment were taken from the building shortly after the fire started.

“We don’t have any idea,” Tim Gernon said when asked about the fire’s cause.

He noted that the blaze has not put them out of business. “With our other locations, we’re not going to be affected,” said Gernon, one of the owners.

“We’re just in shock. We’re numb. We’re devastated,” said Connie Eaker as she watched fire crews battling the heavy smoke and flames. Her daughter, Sara Eaker, is a funeral director there.

John Reader was among the onlookers drawn to the scene this morning. His wife heard the sirens wailing. “She looked out later, and fire and black smoke was rolling out,” Reader said.

“It’s interesting,” Reader noted as he leaned against a fence watching the commotion. “I’m going to stay for a while.”

Another man observed the firefighting efforts while slouched atop a riding lawnmower in a neighboring yard.

At one point this morning firefighters perched at the top of three ladder trucks poured water down into the churning flames and smoke. Others kneeled on the ground directing water hoses into the building’s smoky interior.

Orange flames curled from beneath the roof and rose high into the air through other parts of the roof.

Traffic was blocked at Main Street Northwest in Bourbonnais as firefighters worked this morning, but the roadway is open again.