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State Office Building Catches Fire

Updated: Friday, July 11 2014, 10:47 AM CDT

SPRINGFIELD -- Fire is the worst fear for any homeowner, but when you're at your place of work, things are different.

You're surrounded by dozens of co-workers, going about your daily routine. Until suddenly, alarms sound and your day takes an unexpected turn.

"You always hear about office buildings catching fire, but you never believe it will be your own."

For the 24 employees from the Illinois Secretary of State Department of Securities, their worst fear became reality just before 2:00pm Thursday.

"I smelled a little thing, I thought maybe that it was the microwave and then pretty soon another employee said 'No, it is the real thing. We need to get out,'" said employee Lynne Bednarko.

"Most of us tried to grab our keys, our purses, whatever and made a B-line running down the halls yelling, 'GET OUT!'" said Carolyn Jones.

And when employees finally made their way to safety, they realized the severity of the fire.

"The whole side of the building was completely in flames. The windows were popping, glass was flying. Our picnic table was completely engulfed on that side of the building," said one employee.

Within minutes, Springfield Fire crews were on the scene, knocking down the blaze. While employees waited to hear from fellow co-workers.

"Not knowing what was going on, that was scary for most of us," said Jones

But despite the charred metal, trees and broken windows, fear quickly turned to relief.

"Because we knew everybody's gotten out, and was safe," said Bednarko.

All employees will be able to return to work on Friday. As for the cause of the fire, Springfield Fire Chief Ken Fustin says careless smoking caught a bush on fire and then flames spread to the building. Damage is estimated at $250,000.

State Office Building Catches Fire

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