Fire destroys historic building in Oakland

Fire destroys historic building in Oakland

OAKLAND – A historic building in Oakland's town square was destroyed in a fire Saturday.

At around 1 p.m., Oakland residents reported hearing an explosion coming from the basement of the former Inn on the Square, a pillared white house on Montgomery Street.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they found the building engulfed in flames, said Oakland Fire Chief John Henry.

Several area fire departments responded, including those from Ashmore, Brocton, Charleston, Hindsboro, Kansas, Newman and Oakland.

All told, about 50 firefighters were on the scene, Henry said.

"The flames were being fueled. They were coming out pretty hot," Henry said.

Most of the flames were extinguished by 6 p.m. and Oakland firefighters stayed on the scene until 2 a.m. putting out hot spots around the building.

The family who lived inside was able to escape, Henry said.

The local landmark dates back to 1897. It was a private residence until Max and Carolyn Coon opened the Inn on the Square in 1986. The Coons then sold it to Gary and Linda Miller in 1992, and the Millers operated the inn as well as an apparel and gift shop inside it.

The inn closed in the summer of 2005 after the Millers sold it to the Puski family, who have used it as a private residence.

By Sunday, a portion of the building was still standing, but most of it was in ruins, Henry said.

"I'd call the house a total loss," he said.

The Oakland Fire Department used about 130,000 gallons of water, plus another 30,000 gallons from Hindsboro.

"All the departments and the city really came together," Henry said.

The firefighters also worked to keep an adjacent church from catching fire.

The Illinois State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause of the fire.

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