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Fire destroys four antique planes in hangar in central Illinois town

Monday, April 9, 2007

CHENOA, Ill. -- A fire caused as much as $500,000 in damage to four antique planes and a hangar near the McLean County town of Chenoa.

Two Cessna planes, a Pacer and an Ercoupe were lost in the fire, said Bill Thacker, who owned the hangar. Two of the single-engine prop planes were built in 1946, one was built in 1947 and the other in 1958.

"It's just stuff. Nobody was hurt, and it wasn't our house," Thacker said. "But there were a lot of memories lost here."

Thacker, a pilot for United Airlines, said his son looked out a house window about 10:30 p.m. Friday and saw flames coming from the hangar.

"Flames were coming out the eaves. It was so hot I couldn't get inside," Thacker said.

The state fire marshal was investigating a cause. Firefighters from Chenoa, Gridley, Lexington and El Paso battled the blaze.

"Nothing is salvageable. It was so hot, it melted everything," Thacker said as he held up a small piece of metal. "This is what's left of the airplanes."


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