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Chandlerville Landmark Destroyed By Fire
Hundreds of Chandlerville residents watched in horror as a staple of the community, Ev's Diner and Pool Hall, was destroyed by a Fourth of July fire that had crews from multiple departments battling for hours.
Hundreds of folks were planning on being downtown in Chandlerville today for a free church fish fry to celebrate the end of vacation Bible school and Independence Day. But when they arrived, they watched as the decades-old town pool hall burned for several hours.
"I remember when my husband and I first started dating, this is one of the first places we had a dinner," Chandlerville resident Chris Eilers said.
"It was a lot of memories, especially for the owner of it," former employee Kayla Kemp said. "She's like a mom to me."
Many Chandlerville residents were inside the local church preparing for an end-of-vacation Bible school celebration. But when they stepped outside, they saw the smoke pouring from Ev's Diner and Pool Hall.
"This was a place where a lot of the community members gather around and play cards, have coffee, good food, just good fellowship with the town," Eilers said.
"It was just, you know, where family and friends came around and enjoyed eating and talking about the town," Kemp said. "It was a great place."
But even after the fire department poured thousands of gallons of water on the blaze, it kept flaring right back up for several hours.
"These are old, old buildings," Chandlerville Fire Chief Matt Vaughn said. "Just trying to get them to put out--the roof seems to be the problem right now. Everything else is pretty well shut down or out. We've got a corner over there that we can't get out, because the roof is still over it."
As the brick walls began to break apart from the heat, more and more of the roof continued to collapse, and the future of the building went up in smoke.
"It's heartbreaking, because, like I said, we've had a lot of good times here," Eilers said. "And it's been around for a long time, been in the community for a long time. And it's just sad knowing that it's not going to be here, and just sad."
Vaughn said the fire was officially declared out around 2:30 p.m. He estimated the building, as well as possibly the tavern next door, is a total loss.
He said the fire may have been started by a window air conditioning unit in the apartment upstairs.
Vaughn said the fire fight would have been impossible without the help from several departments, including Ashland, Havana, Kilbourne, Beardstown, and Virginia.
Reporting in Chandlerville, Mike Brooks, ABC NewsChannel 20.