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Suspicious Loop Fires Lead to 'L' Closure

By Shannon in Arts & Entertainment on May 5, 2007 7:10PM

excitement is sirens and lightsIt's all in the timing. Chicagoist stayed a little later at work yesterday to get some exercise time in (believe it!), so we ended up taking the Purple Line home at around 6:45 p.m. As we traveled through the Loop, the conductor informed us that we wouldn't be stopping at Adams & Wabash. When we got there, it was easy to see why. Fire trucks galore were piled up back to the Art Institute. A CTA operative on the platform was quite insistent that the station was closed "by order of the fire department." Intrigue, she wrote! We hoped this didn't mean the station itself was on fire, or that it would be closed for a long amount of time. Per usual, information on the scene was very scanty.

When we got home, we discovered it was a relatively small to-do at some nearby buildings. Around 6 p.m., a fire broke out on the ninth floor of a 10-story building at 218 S. Wabash. Not so unusual; the area was apparently going through renovation. Due to faulty standpipes, though, fire hoses had to be dragged up all nine flights in order to get the fire under control. Then news of another fire two doors down, at 230 S. Wabash, came down around 6:45 p.m. Firefighters were taken by surprise as flames leapt from the tenth floor, roughly the same height as the first blaze. Everything was declared struck by 7:20 p.m. and only three people sustained injury from smoke inhalation.

But now there are lingering questions about the natures of the two fires. Owing to the fact that a building with four fire walls lay in between the two stricken edifices, there's no way the fire could have spread from one building to another, especially not without the middle building also catching. Fire commissioner Raymond Orozco definitively states that both fires had two different origins; police dogs were on the scene later, sniffing for accelerants. Increasing the oddness, both buildings are owned by the same person. Jeez, can't we ever have a normal, accidental fire in the Loop? ... Oh yeah. We just made ourselves sad.

Image via I Am Not A Photographer.