Investigation begins in old Farmington High School building fire

By WEEK Producer

May 16, 2014 Updated May 16, 2014 at 7:34 PM CDT

FARMINGTON, Ill. -- Small puffs of smoke were still billowing Friday morning from what's left of Thursday's fire.

Investigators combed through charred debris inside the old Farmington High School building. It will be a few days before they determine the cause.

The main structure is so badly damaged that Farmington Fire Chief Anthony Scapecchi, who went to school there, got emotional as he surveyed the damage.

"The third floor is a total loss. It's gone," said Scapecchi. "The second floor it's maybe salvageable a little bit but there are a lot of burn marks in there. The building is pretty much destroyed."

At the diner across the street, the owner of the building looked over blue prints. Dan Meister had converted it into a faith-based retreat. Now he's weighing what to do next.

"Get demolished what needs to be demolished and after that I'll start developing a game plan on whether or not to restart the recreational concept," Meister said.

Meanwhile, a few small businesses located in the newer east wing addition of the building were lucky. Their shops survived.

"Right now I feel like I won the lottery because we've just got a little bit of water damage and that's it," said Paul Lindley, owner of Lindley Motorsports. "Obviously we could have lost everything."

What isn't gone are the memories.