MENDOTA, Ill. — A fire ripped through downtown Mendota, Illinois Thursday destroying several buildings. No injuries were reported but several animals from a pet store were killed.
Jennifer Sibley and Tandra Cearns were in the process of combining their pet shops into a new storefront along Illinois Avenue.
They were preparing for a grand opening in about a month.
But the fire changed those plans.
“I had a friend call me. I was getting ready for bed and he said that the shop was on fire,” Sibley said. “I grabbed my coat and went out barefoot, got in my truck. I live like four blocks from here. And it was already filled with smoke and up in flames.”
The pet shop owners said it was around 9:15 p.m. Thursday night when a building nearby went up in flames.
It was a five-alarm fire that impacted business and apartments.
Neighboring emergency departments assisted on the call.
No one was injured but dozens of animals lost their lives.
“Rabbits, rats, gerbils, hedgehogs, birds, snakes, reptiles,” Cearns said. “We have two bunnies left in our home, that’s all we have. Everything else was here. … (We) spent two years of our life and to lose stuff like that — it’s devastating.”
The owners said their plan now is to simply restart.
“Some of these animals came from bad situations and we saved them,” Cearns said. “And to lose them in this kind of scenario is horrible. It’s just hard.”
“My brother owns the buildings. I’m hoping he will be able to rebuild and we can start from scratch,” Sibley said.
The portion of the street is expected to be closed though the weekend as crews continue to cleanup.
Mendota is located 85 miles west of Chicago.