March 10--BLOOMINGTON -- John and Jeanette Tornquist worked Saturday to clear the debris from a Friday night blaze that resulted in an estimated $1 million in damages.
A barn on the couple's property, which contained a half-dozen vintage vehicles from the early 1900s, erupted in flames around 8 p.m. Friday night. The couple's home and another barn were not damaged in the blaze.
The fire is believed to be accidental, although the exact cause of the fire remained under investigation Saturday, according to the Bloomington Fire Department.
"Upon arrival, the crews found flames blowing out of two windows on the first floor of the garage," Assistant Chief Gary Sushka said Saturday.
"Firefighters made an aggressive interior attack until conditions deteriorated and they had to exit the building."
By then the fire had extended to the second floor of the structure, and it took the department about two hours to extinguish the blaze. Fire crews will remain on the scene until about 1 a.m. Sunday to monitor the structure, and all off-duty firefighters were called in to replace those working at the scene.
John Tornquist said he had been working in the barn for hours Friday evening before his wife called him into the couple's home for a sandwich.
"Ten minutes later, we heard an explosion. I thought it was a plane, but my wife said, 'You better look at the barn,'" John Tornquist said Saturday while taking a break from clearing water and debris from around the vehicles he had worked for more than 20 years to restore. A 1910 Chalmers Detroit Touring Car, a 1913 Havers, a 1908 Duro and a 1928 Locomobile are among the vehicles damaged.
Jeanette Tornquist said the couple will attempt to restore the vehicles or salvage parts from them, which are rare and difficult to source. Brown's Wrecker Service helped the couple Saturday morning to remove the burned vehicles and take them to an off-site storage location.
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