A number of America’s finest classic cars were partly or completely destroyed in a large five-alarm fire that rampaged through Country Classic Cars’ collection of 600 vehicles in Staunton, Illinois August 8, destroying around 150 of them, reports Hemmings Daily.

The owner, Russ Noel, isn’t clear on which cars were damaged or lost in the flames, but he fears some of his most precious, irreplaceable classics were lost to the fire.

“Some of the cars can’t be replaced,” said Noel in an interview with Hemmings Daily, referencing as an example a 1936 Ford pickup that was destroyed.

“Old trucks like this aren’t easy to find these days.”

As Noel and his staff sift through the rubble, they will eventually be able to identify exactly which cars were lost, and which cars can be restored to their previous glory.

The local fire department isn’t clear on how the fire started, but they believe the fire originated shortly before 800 pm August 8 in the centre of a storage building.

Some 15 fire departments from surrounding communities responded to assist with the blaze, but gusty wind conditions and a shortage of on-site water supply limited the effectiveness of the fire-suppression efforts.

Despite the building becoming fully engulfed in flames, with the roof collapsing in, the fire crews were able to extinguish the fire before Noel’s vehicle titles were destroyed, meaning it will be much easier for the owner to take stock of the damage, and collaborate with his insurance company.

The local fire marshal has been called in to investigate as is standard procedure in a fire of this scope and severity.

(Hemmings Daily with photo from stlttoday.com)