WILMETTE, Ill — A space heater is the suspected cause of a morning blaze that caused extensive damage to a 1920’s-era landmark building in north suburban Wilmette.
The fire began about 9:30 a.m. and spread quickly through the Wilmette Woman’s Club at 10th and Greenleaf.
That space heater was in a bedroom of an apartment unit on the second floor where a custodian lived with his family for 20-years. He said he tried to extinguish the fire triggered by the space heater but the smoke became too heavy and he had to get out for his own safety.
No one was injured in the blaze.
Carol Ducommun came to see what remained of the historic North Shore building. The nearly 100 year old structure served the community in many ways, with meetings, celebrations and activities.
“It really is a community institution,” she said. “It’s part of the glue that holds a community like this together.”
Sharon Geniesse a member of the Wilmette Woman’s Club said “There’s just so much history there since 1923. The land was given to us in 1910. It’s just unbelievable.”
Into the afternoon, crews remained on the scene, dousing hotspots. Because of the bow truss architecture of the building and its age, this fire was fought from the outside. No one was allowed in.
“We had multiple collapses,” said Chief Mike McGreal of the Wilmette Fire Dept. “We have full collapse of the rear of the structure. It’s basically a three-story auditorium that collapsed down to ground level and pushed out into the alley.”