Update 10 p.m.: Evanston firefighters fought a major fire in a multi-tenant retail building on the sourthwest corner of Dodge Avenue and Main Street this evening.
Fire officials say the blaze broke out in a laundromat on the south side of the building. It was first reported about 7:30 p.m. and police officers, who were first to arrive on the scene, reported heavy smoke coming from the building.
Officials report said that part of the building’s roof had collapsed within minutes of when fire crews arrived and they were forced to battle the blaze from outside the building because of the risk to firefighters of a further collapse.
They poured several streams of water onto the building for.well over an hour before deciding it was safe to go inside.
Fire crews from several neighboring communities were called in to help battle the flames.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said the building’s owner, Harry Major, happened to be on the scene when the fire broke out and helped evacuate people from the stores in the complex. There were no immediate reports of injuries from the fire.
As of 10 p.m. streets in the area were still blocked as investigators searched for the cause of the blaze.
Update 5:30 a.m.: Fire Chief Brian Scott said the bow truss roof design of the building created large void spaces in which the fire could spread and presented a high risk of collapse.
“Typically these types of fires are a total loss,” Scott said. “The firefighters did an outstanding job of quickly containing the fire to the area of origin while saving a majority of the structure.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.