HOOPESTON — A fire that damaged a vacant building in downtown Hoopeston on Sunday evening apparently was the result of roof work earlier in the day.
Firefighters from Hoopeston, Rossville and Wellington received a call for smoke showing from the rear of a building at 225 E. Main St. shortly before 7 p.m. When they arrived, thick black smoke was coming from the two-story brick structure, Hoopeston Fire Chief Cliff Crabtree said.
"It was kind of a lazy fire looking for air," he said, adding no one was injured in the incident.
Crabtree said it took a while to locate the fire. Once firefighters found it in the roof, they cut back part of the roof to get to the blaze.
"We had to fight it up on the roof and inside part of the building, too," Crabtree said, adding it took about three hours to extinguish the fire and do overhaul work.
He said freezing temperatures caused some slick spots on ladders and sidewalks, but did not otherwise hamper firefighters.
Crabtree said most of the damage was confined to the roof, although the entire building, which has three sections, sustained smoke damage. He added firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to other buildings nearby.
The building, at Main and Market streets, last housed Kelley's Pub & Grub. However, Crabtree said it went out of business about a couple of years ago and the site has been vacant since.
Crabtree said the Community Bank of Hoopeston owns the building and apparently was having the roof repaired. He said witnesses reported seeing a work crew on the roof doing repairs around 2 p.m.
"With that type of roofing system, you heat up the material with a torch," he explained. "An ember probably got underneath. There was a wind coming out of the south, and it probably fanned the flames."
Initial damage was estimated at about $50,000, Crabtree said.