Friday, April 17, 2009

St. Charles Evacuates

My town was evacuated today because of a humongous fire burning in the downtown area.

There have been numerous fire fighters and trucks from several nearby towns on the scene aiding the St. Charles volunteer fire fighters all day, even hauling in water when the St. Charles water supply was depleted. The air has been filled with the wail of sirens and the stench of smoke -- white, black, brown, gray, even green smoke.

I was downtown this morning at my friend Barb's shop. We became aware of the fire down the street around 11:00. We checked out the fire on our way to the Chinese restaurant for lunch. After lunch I went home for my camera.

We live on a hill a little over a mile from the center of downtown. This was taken part way down the hill going back downtown.

From the grocery and hardware store parking lot. North Star is just across the street -- the town's main street. (Edited to add that North Star Foods, the business on fire, is a poultry processing plant.)

A view from a couple of blocks away.

It wasn't long afterward that the police went to each downtown business and suggested they close. The fire had the upper hand and was spreading. The situation was getting worse.

Ron and I drove out of town a mile or so to another high point to sit and observe for a while. "Skyfox" had been circling the fire for some time, filming, I suppose. He landed not far from our location.

Back home again. This is from our front yard looking across the street to the south.

And this is some of the "ash" that landed in our yard.

Some of it is like black styrofoam. No wonder the fire smelled so awful. The big chunk on the left is about 5 inches at the widest part.

Story and video here from KTTC.
You can find dramatic videos from the air here at,
here at
and here
and great ground level slide shows at and the Post Bulletin.

North Star Foods is no more and 150 people have lost their jobs. Heart breaking. We are being told that there have been no serious injuries. Hallelujah for that.