Pine Yard fire destroys three businesses


An overnight fire in downtown Evanston that's still burning at this hour has destroyed the Pine Yard and Taco Diablo restaurants along with a nail salon on Davis Street at Oak Avenue.

Fire crews were working to keep the blaze from spreading to the adjoining Wheel & Sprocket bike shop.

Three aerial ladder trucks and several crews on the ground were pouring water on the blaze shortly after 5 a.m.

Fire crews from several neighboring communities — including Morton Grove, Wilmette and Skokie — were called to the scene to assist Evanston firefighters in battling the blaze.

Smoke fills the 1000 block of Davis Street as firefighters pour water on the flames about 5:30 a.m..

The fire apparently broke out sometime before 3 a.m. and fire crews were still fully engaged in battling the blaze nearly three hours later.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the fire or on whether there've been any injuries.

Water cascades from the front window of the nail salon as crews continue to pour water on the buildings just before dawn.

The Pine Yard's website indicates the restaurant, at 1033 Davis, closed at 10 p.m. Saturday evening.

Taco Diablo, at 1029 Davis, closed at 11 p.m. Saturday, according to its website. Technicolour, the nail salon between the two restaurants, at 1031 Davis, had closed at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Update 6:30 a.m.: Fire officials have just declared the fire on Davis Street extinguished. Many fire crews are still on the scene, and traffic on Davis and Church streets and Oak Avenue is still blocked off.

Just before dawn, firefighters were still pouring water into Taco Diablo, but the bike shop next door, protected by a firewall, had escaped the flames.

Update 7:10 a.m.: A city spokesman says one firefighter was taken to Evanston Hospital from the fire scene suffering from an ankle injury and that the fire was first reported at 2:34 a.m. in the Pine Yard.

With wind blowing smoke from the fire east on Davis, a dozen animals at the Bramer Animal Hospital nearby were safely evacuated as a precaution.

Update 7:25 a.m.: Church Street has just been reopened to traffic. Fire units from other communities called to the fire — including Northfield, Winnetka, Park Ridge and Niles — are now returning to their home communities.

Update 8:05 a.m.: Fire Division Chief Dwight Hohl says fire investigators are on the scene trying to determine the cause of the blaze, but may not be able to get into the buildings for a while because crews are still pouring water on hot spots.

Hohl says the three businesses that burned were all part of a single building with a bow truss roof, and once the fire got up into the roof area of the Pine Yard there was little that could be done to keep it from spreading — but that the firewall between that building and the bike shop made it possible to halt the flames there — although city officials say the bike shop is believed to have some smoke and water damage.

Update 9:45 a.m.

Oak Avenue remains blocked off where much of the Pine Yard's roof and west wall collapsed.

A cleanup service is already on scene, draining standing water from the bike shop's roof.

Update 10:35 a.m.: A WGN television report earlier this morning suggested that the fire might put Tuesday's First Night celebration "in jeopardy." But First Night organizer Emily Guthrie tells Evanston Now that report is "absolutely erroneous."

"We're a half mile away," Guthrie says, and the fire will have "no impact whatsoever."

Update 1:30 p.m.: “The Evanston Fire Department did a fantastic job battling the blaze for nearly five hours” and preventing the fire from spreading further, Alderman Don Wilson, whose 4th Ward includes the block said in a statement.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl added, “Our hearts go out to the business owners whose businesses have been lost, and we are grateful that no one was seriously injured.”

Update 2:45 p.m.: By this afternoon all streets were back open and the area around the fire scene had been fenced off.

But shortly after 2 p.m. neighbors spotted smoke coming from the destroyed building and one fire engine crew was sent back to the scene to pour more water on what was left of the structure.

Update 4:20 p.m.: The firefighter who injured an ankle at the Pine Yard fire has now been released from Evanston Hospital. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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