Fire damages historic Maple Tree Inn restaurant in Blue Island

BLUE ISLAND, III. — A popular and historic restaurant in Blue Island was significantly damaged in a fire on Friday morning.

The flames erupted at the Maple Tree Inn, located at 13301 S. Olde Western. Firefighters were called to the scene shortly after 2 a.m. Friday.

The fire spread to the apartment but the residents escaped without injury. Firefighters extinguished the blaze by 6 a.m.

The original building facade is still standing.

The bar area, which dates back to the Columbian Exposition in 1893, also has limited damage.

Officials said the fire started in the inn's basement and was likely caused by a ruptured gas line.

The restaurant was founded in 1975 in the community's historic district. The Louisiana-style restaurant has over the years developed a national reputation and OpenTable ranked it this year as one of the 50 best southern restaurants in America.

The owners say they'll rebuild the restaurant. They released the following statement:

While we are devastated emotionally by this tragedy, we want to assure everyone that no person was hurt in the fire.

The Maple Tree Inn has had multiple, successful chapters and there will be many more. Our team of employees is one of the best ever assembled in our 43 years of business and we will rebuild around them.

We want to praise the fire fighters’ swift response and work in keeping our neighboring businesses safe and attempting to preserve the character of the building.

The State Fire Marshall is leading the investigation at the moment.