CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Officials are investigating the cause of a Tuesday night fire in downtown Champaign, and one nearby business owner said he’s glad it didn’t turn out worse.
The Champaign Fire Department responded to a call around 8:45 p.m. on South First Street near Clark Street. Crews stayed on the scene until early morning hours to make sure it was under control. Though the fire was extinguished, it still caused some damage to surrounding businesses.
“I had a job I was going to early this morning, so I was already in bed by 9:30 or 10,” Glass FX Owner Richard Taylor said. “But then I happened to look at my phone and I got a text.”
Glass FX is the store connected to the vacant building that caught fire Tuesday night.
“This is a building that’s been abandoned for a while. It used to have an antique store in the front and a player piano repair business in the back,” Taylor said.
He said the vacant building holds a special place in his heart.
“I owned that building and lived in the apartment above it. But it’s been empty for, you know, five, six years, at least,” Taylor said. “Real sad that that happened, because it was at one time a beautiful, sound building.
Taylor said he had hundreds of his drawings stored in the Glass FX basement, which suffered water damage from crews fighting the fire for hours.
“They’re probably all destroyed now, which is unfortunate,” he said.
He said he’s glad no one was hurt and that Glass FX is still in business, but that’s not the same story for the coffee shop next door, Page Roasting Company. The owner said they will be closed for a while due to heavy smoke and water damage. Tape was also put up around the nearby apartments, but Taylor said residents have been able to return home.