Firefighters from four different departments put out blaze that destroyed a grain elevator on East Main Street near downtown Greenwood on April 27. Top photos, firefighters also had to pour water continuously on nearby trees directly east of the grain elevator. Firefighters reported to the scene around 3:30 p.m. Traffic was blocked on Main Street for several hours until the blaze was fully extinguished. Two nearby businesses were damaged.
By Al Stilley
A spectacular fire destroyed a vacated grain elevator in Greenwood that had stood for 80 years during the late afternoon on April 27.
The blaze also heavily damaged two adjacent businesses – Sports Plus and You Are the Artist – at 200 E. Main St. Sports Plus owner Scott Beasley, a standout student-athlete at Greenwood High School (Class of 1991), said that the building could be reopened in three months but that damage from smoke could call for a complete rebuild that would take nearly a year.
“I started shoving stuff out the front door with that inferno behind me, but so many people – strangers that I don’t even know – came in and helped move things out of the front part of the store,” Beasley said. “It restores a little bit of my faith in humanity; they helped me out of their kindness and at great risk.”
Beasley said that all customer clothing left for sewing or embroidering was saved and placed in a trailer provided by Tillman’s. Clothing inventory and equipment for screen printing was lost. However, Beasley mentioned that screen-printing competitors have offered their facilities and equipment for use.
Sports Plus opened in 1983 and was founded by Beasley’s parents, Jerry and Linda Beasley.
Teresa Taylor, who owns a small art studio in the same L-shaped single story building, estimated that most of the studio cannot be salvaged and that up to 70 paintings were destroyed. Taylor has leased space from Sports Plus for five years for the art facility where classes are held with lessons in canvas and wood painting and tumbling decorating.
An estimated 25 percent of the building may be salvageable.
Firefighters from Greenwood, White River, Indianapolis, and Whiteland battled the blaze and also continuously sprayed several burning trees east of the adjacent railroad tracks.
There were no injuries. Traffic was blocked for several hours in the area on Main Street.
Greenwood historian Brad Nemeth reported that the first grain elevator was built on the site in the 1820s. Fires in 1909 destroyed that building and two barns and another grain elevator in 1952.
The grain elevator was a familiar site to motorists traveling east and west on Main Street near the CSX railroad tracks. The tall facility that had not been used for years had a familiar Co-op logo. It was a long remaining symbol of the importance of agriculture in Greenwood when it was a small rural town.
Investigators began searching for a cause of the fire that remained unknown at press time.
Greenwood aerial fire apparatus and fire trucks spray water on historic but abandoned grain elevator to prevent fire from spreading. Firefighters also from White River Township, Whiteland, and Indianapolis reported to the scene. Smoke from the blaze could be seen from several miles away.