Fire Claims Life of Area Benefactor


Published on April 13 2012 3:16 am
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm


An area businessman who gave much to support education has died in a house fire.

Coles County sheriff's authorities say Burnham Neal was killed in a fire in his house at 13 Wedgewood Court outside Mattoon.  Sheriff's deputies along with Lincoln Fire, Wabash Fire, Mattoon Fire and Mattoon police were dispatched to a fire alarm at the home at 7am Thursday.  Emergency crews arriving at the scene found the house fully involved in flames.

The 89-year-old Neal was killed as a result of the fire.  Neal's caregiver, who was also at the residence at the time of the fire, was taken to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center for treatment.

Burnham Neal was a successful businessman in the region and owned and operated Neal Tire and Ben Tire.  He was also a strong supporter of education and had contributed sizable amounts both to Eastern Illinois University and Lake Land College.

The fire and Neal's death are currently under investigation by the Illinois State Fire Marshal, Coles County Sheriff's Department and Coles County Coroner's Office.