Fire near campus causes building closures

By Katy Nielsen

An early morning fire at 1326 S. Michigan Ave. caused a number of Columbia classes to be called off on Sept. 7.  Firefighters were still hosing down the building as late as 8:30 a.m.

As of press time, South Michigan Avenue’s 1300 block was closed off.  On what was the first day of school for Columbia students, music and dance classes in the 1306 and 1313 S. Michigan Ave. buildings were cancelled.  The fire was not in a Columbia-owned building, but it shut down its whole block.

Columbia College Emergency Notification sent out an e-mail to all students alerting them of the cancellations at 6:59 a.m.

Jason Bochat, a music student at Columbia, received the e-mail and realized that his Jazz Pop Choir class was cancelled because of the fire.

“I’d rather [the school] keep me safe then have me go in the building and have it collapse or something,” Bochat said.

Due to the strong wind, three fire trucks, several police cars and fire department SUVs were still involved at the scene nearly five hours after the fire broke out.

Second Battalion Chief Joe Gloude from the Chicago Fire Department was at the scene.

“Companies responded at 3 a.m. to a transformer fire,” Gloude said.

According to Gloude, the fire was heavily involved on the second floor when they arrived.  Firefighters tried making an interior attack, Gloude said, but they were unable to stop the fire from the inside.

They had to withdraw their positions and go into defensive mode.  They fought the fire from the outside, Gloude said.

“We’ve been here ever since [the fire started],” Gloude said, “At this time we don’t know the cause of the fire.”

Jason Johnson, Field Supervision at Express Board up Service arrived at the scene at 3:30 a.m.

“The flames were 10 or 15 feet high,” said Johnson, “It started in the back and worked its way up.  You can see the roof in the middle collapsed.”

Johnson said that while the fire was big, he’s seen worse.  “The building’s destroyed but no one got hurt,” Johnson said, “No firemen got hurt, that’s all that matters in the end.”

Columbia students should be aware that classes will not be held in 1306 and 1312 S. Michigan Ave. this week.

Dance students will be contacted via e-mail for information about relocated and cancelled classes, and makeup options will be available for cancelled classes.

Music Department classes have been relocated; students will be contacted with updated location information.

Information about relocated classes will be posted on the Columbia website as well as The Dance Center and The Music Center websites.

Sherwood Community Music School is contacting students directly regarding rescheduling Sherwood classes.

The buildings are expected to be reopened on Monday, Sept. 13.