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For AdVantage News | Village of East Alton
East Alton Fire Station No. 2 stands unused October 21, 2013.
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AdVantage News | Andrew Richards
A village worker tears down the back wall of what was the East Alton Fire Station No. 2 on January 21, 2014.
EAST ALTON - The Dalmatian hopped up on the couch and poked her nose through the curtains, hearing the roar of the fire engines.
Cinders, as she was called, had been waiting for East Alton’s firefighters to return from one of their calls, and upon the familiar sound, jumped up on her perch and poked her head out the window.
This was one of East Alton Fire Chief Randy Nelson’s fondest memories of East Alton Fire Station No. 2, or as he called it, “the neighborhood firehouse,” where Cinders was part of the building’s everyday atmosphere.
The village tore down the building - located at 701 Third Street in East Alton - on Tuesday, Jan. 21 to make way for a $15 million redevelopment project the village will break ground on in February.
“The building was a fixture in the neighborhood,” Nelson said. “Neighborhood kids were friends with firemen ... It was a neighborhood firehouse. Everybody knew everybody over there. All the neighbors who were walking down the street would stop in and say, ‘Hi’ ... When Cinders was there, kids (from the Keasler Recreational Complex next door) would always come in and visit Cinders.”
Nelson bought his first home in East Alton when he started at the fire department in 1989.
Since he lived six houses down from fire station No. 2, he would walk to work every morning - a tradition he would continue for the next six years until he moved to Fire Station No. 1 - located at 209 North Shamrock St.
Roger Werts, East Alton’s building code enforcement officer, said demolishing the firehouse is part of the redevelopment project in which village officials are tearing down temporary housing built in 1939-1940 to replace with 46 housing units.
The spot where fire station No. 2 sits on the corner of Third Street and East Drive will serve as a nice grassy park area for the redevelopment project, said Werts.
Both men agreed tearing down the structure was needed.
“Honestly, it was a little difficult watching it be torn down, but it was a necessary thing,” said Werts - who served for three years at fire station No. 2.
“Closing that station was a bittersweet moment,” Nelson said, “but it was necessary for the times. It was a needed change.”