The Old Post Office building in Chicago caught fire Tuesday around 10:00 a.m. local time. The Chicago Fire Department sent a multiple-alarm to contain the blaze that spread from the seventh floor up.
No injuries have been reported. The fire was put out around 11:30 a.m. Several streets have been affected by the incident as the high temperatures shattered the building’s windows, causing them to fell on the sidewalks. According to authorities, the fire started on the seventh floor in a rubbish pile. After the floor had caught fire, the high temperatures spread the flames to the upper floors, shattering several windows that let the black smoke go out of the structure. The building has been vacant since 1996.
The Chicago Fire Department had to send multiple alarms to the 400 block of West Harrison Street in downtown Chicago due to the magnitude of the blaze. There were at least eight engines on the scene, four trucks, two tower ladders, five battalion chiefs, a district chief, a deputy district chief, a squad company, an ambulance and the Command Van, reported CBS Chicago.
The extended ladders were crucial to extinguish the fire as quickly as the firefighters could because the blaze started on a high floor. By 11:00 a.m. the smoke pouring out of the Old Post Office had dissipated, but the Chicago Fire Department continued ventilation maneuvers to avoid any reignition until 11:35 a.m.
The building’s shattered windows created backups on I-290 from Halsted Street East in both directions. The latter leads to Congress Parkway and ramps to the Eisenhower Expressway from the Kennedy Expressway.
Other streets surrounding the building on fire were closed by the police as well to protect people and vehicles from the glass shards. Authorities blocked portions of the Congress at Taylor Street and the Harrison Street Bridge at Wacker Drive. Traffic returned to normal after firefighters cleared the scene. An investigation is undergoing to discover how the pile of rubbish on the seventh floor caught fire.
The Old Post Office: An abandoned building since 1996
The vacant building was bought in 2009 for $24 million by the British developer Bill Davies, but he never carried any redevelopment plans. He died in May 2016. In July, the city announced that 601W Companies LLC had finalized plans to purchase the building.
The company will start a five-year project to renovate the building that will cost around $500 million. The Old Post Office will become into an office space with a rooftop park, outdoor cafes, a fitness center, and a new stretch of Riverwalk space, said CBS Chicago.
The Old Post Office in Chicago is a 2.7 million square foot structure that opened in 1921. The building also caught fire in 2014, but the investigation concluded the blaze was provoked by trains running under the structure.
Source: CBS Chicago