ALTON - Alton Fire Chief Jesse Jemison said the fire that destroyed the McDonald's on Broadway Thursday morning became much worse when an air conditioning unit fell to the floor.

Initially, firefighters fought the blaze and smoke from the inside and outside, but when the air conditioning unit dropped, they had to be evacuated for safety purposes.

A Box Alarm was called for the fire. The fire call came in at 5:20 a.m. from a passerby who saw smoke coming from the McDonald's roof. The Alton McDonald's encountered severe damages inside and out, and the roof collapsed during the fire.

Alton Fire Department, Godfrey Fire Protection District, East Alton Fire Department, Florissant, MO., firefighters, all responded to assist and worked in shifts to fight the fire, Chief Jemison said.

IEMA dispatched a drone that also assisted with a camera that helped guide the firefighters in their attack, Jemison said.

"The drone was a Godsend in fighting the fire," he said. "We were fortunate they dispatched the drone to us."

East Alton and Florissant, MO., assisted with ladder approaches. Ameren Illinois came and shut off gas and electricity, and Illinois American Water boosted water pressure that helped, Jemison said.

As of around 8:45 a.m. Thursday, Jemison said the fire appeared to be getting more under control, and it had been very difficult to attack because of the vacant spots within the structure.

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