WASHINGTON — As firefighters spent hours battling a massive blaze Friday at Uftring Chevrolet, Washington leaders looked for a temporary place for the dealership to sell cars as early as Monday.

The car lot, 1860 Washington Road, burned steadily for five hours Friday, with plumes of thick, black smoke visible for miles around. By about 8:30 p.m. Friday, with the thermometer dipping below zero, firefighters had doused all hot spots and begun cleanup.

No injuries were reported. The dealership's main building, essentially a metal shell, remained standing. However, it's likely unsalvageable, said Washington Police Chief Mike McCoy.

"Everything inside is probably damaged bad," he said.

As for the outside inventory, the fire did not damage rows of cars outside, McCoy said. However, he wondered about possible smoke damage.

"The police cars in the area smell like smoke," McCoy said. "The smoke was so thick. And the wind shifted three times."

The dark smoke — which in the early afternoon drew a constant stream of onlookers, some clambering atop cars to take cell photos and videos — likely could be blamed on the flames' consumption of tires and oil drums kept on-site, McCoy said.

As of Friday night, the fire's cause remained unknown, he said. But it apparently sparked inside a storage shed for tools. McCoy said employees turned fire extinguishers on the blaze, with no success.

"It just got out of hand," he said.

As employees whisked customers to safety, the first fire call came in just after noon. Within minutes, the Washington Fire Department put out a call for additional help, drawing dozens of firefighters from area agencies, including Morton, Peoria, Eureka, Mackinaw and Peoria Heights.

Firefighting equipment from five counties arrived to pitch in. As fire hoses deluged the flames with water, Washington's snowplows spread salt to fight ice formation and allow better footing for firefighters. Meanwhile, the American Red Cross brought food and water for emergency personnel.

Washington Mayor Gary Manier marveled at the perseverance from all angles in battling the blaze.

"I really feel for our fighters who have been there since noon," he said. "And we're so proud of the neighboring communities who came to our aid."

Manier said he and others were scrambling to help find owner Gary Uftring (along with 80-some employees) an alternate, temporary location as fast as possible.

"We're just seeing if we can get them up and running on Monday," Manier said.

Chief McCoy said, "They're talking about whether they can do it with tents and trailers."

Meanwhile, a Facebook post from Uftring stated, "For our customers whose vehicles are in the facility, we will be in contact as soon as we possibly can."

Another Uftring post said, "We would like to express our deepest thanks to the first-responders who are risking their lives to fight this fire. From all of us, thank you to everyone in the community for your prayers and support. We appreciate it."