Ice hampered Janesville firefighters’ efforts to extinguish a fire at the Sherwin-Williams Co. Paint and Home Decorating Store, 23 S. Main St., in December 1977.

This photo from the Janesville Gazette’s archives shows Janesville firefighters extinguishing a fire at the Sherwin-Williams Co. Paint and Home Decorating Store at 23 S. Main St. on Dec. 22, 1977.

Janesville police officers David Lewis and Steven DeWitt had been investigating a smoky smell in the area and peered through the paint store’s front window. They saw the building was full of smoke.

Moments later, “the large plate-glass windows blew out, scattering debris clear across South Main Street,” reads a story by reporter Jim Dowd in the Dec. 22, 1977, Janesville Gazette.

Battalion Chief Winston Weber said the two-story building was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, Dowd reported.

“It was just a mass of flames with some coming out of the front windows reaching 40 to 50 feet in the air,” Weber is quoted as saying.

The temperature was about 10 degrees, and Capt. Gordon Rasmussen said ice quickly coated the firefighting equipment.

One of the ladders “probably weighed an extra 50 pounds, just from the accumulation of ice,” he said.

The fire destroyed the store and damaged Bev’s Styling Studio and Biwer’s Shoe Store, located on either side of the paint store.

The cause of the fire was never determined.

23 S. Main St. is now a parking lot near Carousel Consignments.

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