Champaign firefighters seek cause of early-morning blaze

Champaign firefighters seek cause of early-morning blaze

Updated 7:05 p.m. Tuesday.

CHAMPAIGN — Fire investigators, including the state fire marshal's office, are still looking for the cause of a fire that destroyed a garage and heavily damaged a house in west Champaign early Tuesday.

Champaign fire department spokeswoman Dena Schumacher said firefighters were initially called to 1701 W. Church St. at 4:14 a.m. because a detached garage at that address was on fire. That residence shares the garage with a house just to the south at 205 N. Victor St.

Schumacher said the garage is only about a foot from the vacant Victor Street house, which is owned by Don Dunlap of Mahomet. The fire jumped to the two-story house, heavily damaging the northwest corner, where the kitchen and bedroom are.

"(The house) has been vacant for several years and they had put the power on to begin renovations but no renovations had begun," said Schumacher.

She said fire investigators said the fire started "at" the garage but firefighters aren't sure why.

Champaign Fire Marshal John Koller said investigators had finished collecting evidence early Tuesday evening and were looking at it to find the cause of the fire. Koller said he expected to determine the cause by Wednesday morning.

The residents of the rental house at 1701 W. Church St. were evacuated but later allowed back in their home.

Firefighters arrived at 4:18 a.m. and called a second alarm for more help at 4:25 a.m. due to the cold weather  - temperatures were just about 0 - and "the complexity of the situation." The fire was reported to be out at 6:30 a.m.

Schumacher said two firefighters received bruises or strains from falls while fighting the fire. Both remain at work, she said.

A damage estimate was not yet available.




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