Trash fire extinguished at Illini Tower

Trash fire extinguished at Illini Tower

UPDATED 9:45 p.m. Tuesday

CHAMPAIGN — A campus housing building was evacuated for about three hours while Champaign firefighters responded to a report of a trash chute fire on Tuesday.

No injuries were reported.

Firefighters were called to Illini Tower, 409 E. Chalmers St., C, at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to a report of smoke.

Fire department spokeswoman Dena Schumacher said an initial fire was quickly put out, but smoke from the fire moved up to other floors.

“They worked to get smoke out of the complex,” she said.

The residents who had been evacuated from their rooms stayed in a cafeteria while firefighters worked, according to Champaign Fire Department Capt. Glen Daniels.

Daniels said a Dumpster in the basement that receives trash from the trash chute had caught on fire, activating the building’s sprinklers and controlling the fire.

Firefighters moved the Dumpster outside the building and used fans to ventilate the smoke out of the building, according to Daniels, but smoke kept returning to places that had been ventilated.

“We found a burning rag stuck to the trash chute between the basement and the first floor, and we put that out,” Daniels said.

As the firefighters continued to ventilate the building, they found another fire on the first floor between the trash chute liner and the trash chute chase wall (the space the liner travels through), he said.

“A bunch of trash had collected on the first floor and caught fire from the heat,” Daniels said. “It was still smoking.”

Firefighters cut the trash chute liner out to put out the fire.

Daniels said the residents returned from the cafeteria to their rooms after 7:30 p.m. He said the cause was listed as undetermined.

“The firefighters have no indication it was deliberately set,” he said.

The fire department estimated total damage at about $5,000.

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