Sometime during the early morning of Friday, October 25, I imagine that most people were trying to keep warm with blankets, heaters, or another body next to them. Tragically, the Monmouth Municipal Airport felt a darker sense of warmth in a different way: being consumed by flames.
Warren County Coroner Al McGuire said he had first noticed the fire while he drove by the airport just before 6 a.m. Other civilians and witnesses reported having seen the blaze during a similar time frame.
According to the chief of the city’s fire department, Casey Rexroat, the incident resulted in at least $1.1 million in damage. However, Rexroat also said that the damage estimate was potentially unclear, as it was difficult to assess the value of the eight airplanes destroyed by the fire.
A clear cause or motive is yet to be found.
During the fire, there were ten planes in the hangar. Reportedly, at least two planes were saved when onlookers pushed them away from the flames.
Monmouth Flying Club, a 53-year-old group of general-aviation enthusiasts based at the airport, had most of its archives and information burned and irrecoverable.
Despite this occurrence, the airport is still in operation; due to two functioning runways, multiple planes reportedly landed and departed on Sunday. However, a void of electrical power for the pumps meant that no fuel was available.
Interestingly, this is not the first time the Monmouth airport has seen the need to address post-fire reconstruction. Similarly, the airport fell victim to another fire of unknown origin in the 1970s, losing an office, two airplanes, and a part of a hangar.
Those were eight airplanes that won’t be passed on to a new pilot. Those were eight airplanes that will neither be cheap nor easy to replace. Those planes will not be flown on anymore, and one can only hope that the airport—and Monmouth, by extension—only experienced an unusual event: one that doesn’t go on to jeopardize the city’s safety.
Darlon Riviere – Staff Writer