Warehouse Fire

A dead animal in an electrical panel may have been the cause of a fire at a warehouse in Washington early Friday.

An alert citizen, Esther Steinke, called the Washington Fire Department at about 1:20 a.m. to report that she could see smoke and smell burning rubber.

Fire crews were dispatched to check the area and found smoke coming from the eaves of CG Power Systems, formerly A.B. Chance, at 100 W. 10th St., Fire Chief Bill Halmich said.

The fire could have been much worse if it had not been for the alert citizen, Halmich said.

Fire crews forced entry into the building and found smoke “floor to ceiling,” Halmich said.

The source of the blaze was a large electrical panel inside the building, he said. There was visible fire coming from the panel, he said, adding that the flames were knocked down with a powder.

Once Ameren cut off power to the building, firefighters were able to completely extinguish the blaze.

The remains of an unidentified animal were found in the electrical panel, he said.

The fire could have been started by the decomposing animal causing a shortage in the electrical panel, he said. The damage was confined to the electrical box, and no one was injured.

CG Power Systems, which makes electrical transformers, uses the warehouse to store surplus. Halmich said.