CHAMPAIGN - An unknown number of residents of a Campustown apartment building had to be relocated early Saturday after a fire in a garbage dumpster damaged balconies on their building.
Champaign Fire Capt. Wayne Huckstadt said firefighters were called to the 300 block of East Green Street at 12:08 a.m. They found flames leaping out of a full dumpster adjacent to the building at 306 1/2 E. Green St.
“It was going real well when we got there,” Huckstadt said. “It was an extra dumpster put there because of move-in.”
The fire extended upward, damaging at least two balconies and possibly a third on the apartment building, which is owned by Roland Realty. Firefighters kept the fire from getting inside the building.
“We did have a sprinkler system that was activated. That helped keep (the fire) out of the building,” he said.
Huckstadt described the damage to the balconies as major. He said there was smoke in some of the apartments of the three-story building.
Lt. John Hocking said an investigator estimated the damage at $10,000.
Hocking said the investigator determined that the fire in the dumpster was started by a human but he had no information to suggest it was maliciously set.
“It could have been a discarded cigarette,” Hocking said.
Hocking said police had broken up a party in an apartment directly above the dumpster not long before the fire was reported.
He was not certain how many of the apartment residents had to be relocated. A message on the Roland Realty answering machine said that most apartments were available to be moved into on Friday.
The fire prompted the activation of the Illini text alert system, warning recipients to avoid Green Street between Third and Fourth streets.
Hocking said that probably explained why firefighters had such a crowd of onlookers. Firefighters had the fire under control by 1:20 a.m. Investigators remained there about another hour trying to determine the cause.