The Fire is Still Going Strong Next Door

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There hasn’t been this much activity around Capitol Square since the February Uprising.

To be on the safe side, the Y was evacuated once more to the Salvation Army.  (One woman was sent to the hospital after experiencing heart palpitations and possibly smoke inhalation on top of it.) Those who did not ride on Metro buses to the Salvation Army went to James Madison Park with their babies and children, or are staying for the afternoon with friends or relatives in the area until it seems that everything has gotten back to normal.

At the Salvation Army, we were greeted with food and support.  Lunch was hot and satisfying, although I could not partake because of my test the next day, but everyone else ate with gusto.  I was even given a bed to rest briefly.  A bunch of us has now returned to the Y, but the blue, black haze of smoke is still present over Capitol Square, and the building is going to smell like char for some time to come.  However, the fire is still not completely out; there are hot spots.  The restaurant Underground Kitchen, which opened a short time ago, and where I and a friend went to have dinner not a week ago, may be a total loss from water damage. There is also a hair salon in the same vicinity that will probably be laying off its employees very soon as well. Check this from Channel 3000:

The fire at the Capitol Hill Apartments, in the 100 block of North Webster Street, near Capitol Square, still burned more than five hours after it began at about 5 a.m.

Plumes of black smoke and flames could be seen from a distance. The smoke from the fire was spreading through downtown streets and Fire Department officials are asking motorists to avoid the area if possible.

About 50 firefighters were involved in contending with the blaze.

Madison Fire Department spokeswoman Lori Wirth said flames were still shooting through the building’s roof as of 6 a.m., and firefighters had to exit the building for a time because of structural concerns.

Fire Capt. Brad Olson said firefighters were called out of the building 9 a.m. to take a defensive approach to fighting the fire, which burned in the attic of the three-story building. Fire department spokeswoman Lori Wirth said the roof is “virtually gone and the ceiling is waterlogged and sagging.”

A restaurant, Underground Kitchen, is located on the first floor of the building, but it’s still unclear exactly where in the building the fire began or what caused it.

All indications are that the fire began on or near the roof and spread downwards, but it’s way too early to make a final determination.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Regarding Underground Kitchen:

Jonny Hunter, one of five partners who own Underground Kitchen, said early Thursday afternoon he had not been able to view the extent of the damage to the restaurant and that he had no information on how the fire started.

“I can’t imagine the building will survive this,” he said.

Hunter said all of the partners were out of the business by about midnight Wednesday and that the bartender left about 3:30 a.m. or 4 a.m. and reported nothing suspicious.

The restaurant opened last October to rave reviews, serving mostly locally grown food in a largely communal setting. Much of the décor was plucked from old buildings and repurposed, including the tables, all hand built out of Wisconsin wood, some of it from old barns.

“It was a labor of love, so that’s the really hard thing for us,” Hunter said.

Ald. Mike Verveer, who represents the Downtown district, told he hoped the 1920s era apartment building can be saved.

“I just hope the building isn’t a total loss and can be restored,” Verveer said.

The building formerly housed Cafe Montmartre. There are approximately 24 apartment units above the restaurant space.

I hear yet another fire truck arriving, perhaps to help with those hot spots.

A lotta excitement today. Try to stay out of the vicinity of Mifflin and Pinckney, East Washington and Webster. There will be detours and there will be delays.

~ by blksista on June 30, 2011.

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