November 9th, 2008



There was a minor disaster in downtown Champaign Friday morning. An historic, 130-year-old building that was being renovated into lofts burned to the ground. Apparently it collapsed into the street just moments after the firefighters arrived, and then the massed pile of wood burned like a giant bonfire for an hour before they got it under control and extinguished.

Picture gallery here.

Flames roared a hundred feet into the air, the heat cracking windows in businesses nearby. Some ancillary fires got started from direct heat and hot embers, but apparently these all got extinguished before any kind of damage could be done.

The fire was immediately across the street from the building where our new home will be, so we are very concerned about this. The south side of the building has been mostly finished on the exterior, so the fire, just a few feet away, shattered glass and scorched and discolored brick. The whole area looks like it's been bombed out, and crews were still working this afternoon to clean up the street and sidewalk.

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What this is going to do to any move-in dates, nevermind the integrity of the building, is really worrying us. Thankfully, none of the building HVAC is functioning yet, or at least is not running, so no smoke got sucked into the interior like several other apartment buildings and businesses downtown. And our apartment is quite a ways away from the fire, so whatever damage occurred should not have affected us. But they will probably have to stall construction to do inspections for fire and heat damage.

I hope this whole move isn't, like, jinxed, or something. Having to move and sell a house in the middle of a nationwide economic crisis is bad enough.