City firefighters rescue 8 as blaze guts apartments

City firefighters rescue 8 as blaze guts apartments

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign firefighters used ground ladders to rescue eight people, three cats and two guinea pigs from a burning apartment building on Saturday.

According to a Champaign Fire Department report, firefighters were called to a blaze at the Stonegate Apartment Complex, 2503 W. Springfield Ave., at 11:34 a.m. Saturday. When the firefighters arrived four minutes later, they found the 12-unit Building F involved in flames.

According to fire department spokeswoman Dena Schumacher, the fire appeared to have started when a small grill, placed too close to combustibles on an apartment balcony, was left unattended. The occupant of the apartment apparently did not realize that the grill had been fired up when he left for the Illini football game, Schumacher said. The occupants of a nearby apartment called 911 and left the apartment as glass windows began to break from the heat.

While some firefighters worked to put out the blaze, others climbed ladders to rescue eight people, three cats and two guinea pigs.

Nobody was injured, according to a fire department report.

Fire Department Captain John Barker said the building sustained a heavy fire loss, with heavy fire, smoke and water damage to six apartments on the north side of the building and light smoke damage to six apartments on the south side of the building. Three apartments were gutted, according to Barker, with furniture and clothing lost.

Firefighters had the blaze under control by 12:15 p.m. and left the scene at 2:24 p.m., Barker said.

Volunteers from the Illini Prairie Chapter of the American Red Cross were working with 19 victims Saturday afternoon to ensure they have shelter, food, water, medicine and clothing.

Persons interested in contributing may mail checks to the Red Cross at 507 W. Springfield Ave., U, with "local disaster relief" written in the memo line.

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