Out of ashes

That sound you heard very early Friday morning was the sound of dozens of firefighters responding to the biggest fire in recent memory.

While some students may not be very familiar with downtown Champaign, the Metropolitan building at the corner of Neil and Main Streets was one of the most important landmarks in this community.

Built in the 1870s, it was undergoing a major renovation that would see its upper floors turned into apartments and, according to one of its owners, the inside was going to be “beyond what anybody had ever seen in this community.”

Originally slated to open in the spring, the fire has unfortunately set back plans indefinitely.

While the cause of the fire in unknown at this time, we were lucky that the it happened early in the morning and that no one was hurt.

But while Friday’s news was dominated by destruction, it was heartening to see the community come together to mourn the loss.

Downtown restaurants like Jim Gould’s provided food and space for firefighters to rest while they spent more than 12 hours on the scene making sure the fire didn’t spread.

One man also tried to stop burning embers wafting from the blaze from igniting other structures by standing on the still under-construction M2 building with a garden hose.

We hope that the owners eventually rebuild the Metro to its former glory and not allow this setback to discourage their or other’s efforts to continue to improve the downtown area.

Students can do their part to support the community by sampling what the downtown area has to offer.

If you’re tired of the on-campus bar scene or in the market for a quieter, more classy study spot, you’re likely to find what you’re looking for by traveling north on Neil.

We hope that the sadness prevailing downtown gives way to hope for the future as new businesses, new buildings and new people make the area something to be proud of.