Fire At U Of I Building In Urbana
By Jeff Bossert, with Additional Reporting from the Associated Press
A building on the northeast side of the University of Illinois campus in Urbana appears to have been destroyed by a fire.
The facility in the 1000 block of West University Avenue had functioned as the Faculty Staff Assistance Program, but those services have since moved. It was also a former doctor's office.
U of I Spokeswoman Robin Kaler confirms the building is unoccupied.
Urbana firefighters were seen battling large flames just before 7 a.m. Tuesday. There are no reports of injuries.
Urbana Fire Marshal Phil Edwards said the utility company is making sure the gas line is shut off. He was first alerted about the fire just past 6.
“Upon arrival, there was debris strewn across University," he said. "There was fire coming out of the building. They got the fire extinguished and controlled to the point that – they kept it in check until Ameren was able to get the gas shut off.”
University Avenue was blocked between Goodwin and Lincoln Avenues for most of the morning.
Urbana Fire Chief Brian Nightlinger told authorities believe a natural gas leak sparked the explosion and subsequent fire that shot flames into the sky.
Edwards expected University to re-open by the noon hour, but said the investigation will take a bit longer, starting from the outside and working their way in.
They’re looking at the debris and the positioning of it," he said. "And work over towards closer to the building. Once they get ready to tear the building down the rest of the way, they’ll do that in a systematic fashion so they can look at the building as it’s coming down, and see what could have happened.”
Urbana Fire says the department is looking for anyone who may have been near the site at the time the fire ignited, asking them to contact the city.
UPDATE: Firefighters had not yet made a final determination as to the cause of the blaze as of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.