Business goes on after downtown Champaign fire

By Ellyn Newell

The Metropolitan Building on Neil and Church in downtown Champaign collapsed at 6 a.m. after a fire broke out. The fire began around 5 a.m. and the firefighters managed to get on the scene by 5:18, said Steve Clarkson, Champaign deputy fire chief.

The main concern was containing the fire so that it did not spread to the neighboring buildings. They were able to do just that, by keeping the fire confined to the building of origin.

“They did a great job with a defensive fire attack,” Clarkson said.

Damages sustained to surrounding buildings include cracked windows and embers on the roof, said Ginny Jeffers, Director of Operations for One Main Development.

“We had an awesome staff up there early putting out the fire,” Jeffers said.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Nearby restaurant, Jim Gould, closed for breakfast and had a slower lunch than usual, said Michael Johnson, manager. The building had about 50 cracked windows with staff was duct taping the damage.

“There were maintenance people out early with garden hoses putting out little fires,” Jim Gould, owner, said.

Jim Gould worked in conjunction with the relief efforts by serving food to the firefighters on the scene.

While Boltini Lounge is closed during the day, they plan on opening an hour later than usual. Because their power wasn’t turned back on until 3 pm, they needed extra time to make sure that the computers were running and all the equipment was working, said Robb Tobias, general manger. The only major issue he sees facing the bar tonight is people figuring out how to maneuver around the caution tape.

“I think we’ll get lots of curiosity seekers tonight,” Tobias said.