Major fire hits downtown Springfield
07/09/08 5:55PM By Ross Sneyd
(Host) A major fire hit downtown Springfield overnight - and heavily damaged the building that houses the movie theater and apartments.
About 20 residents of apartments on the upper floors of the Ellis Block were able to escape and no serious injuries were reported.
Firefighter John Claflin describes what happened.
(Clafin) "We received a call at approximately 10:30 reporting a possible fire on Main Street. It escalated to a fifth alarm. All units were working. Fire was declared under control around 4 this morning and crews are still on scene performing overhaul.''
(Host) The Ellis Block is one of the two anchor buildings in downtown Springfield.
Firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading across an alley to neighboring building that house Penelope's and McKinley's restaurants.
Town Manager Bob Forguites says the fire was the worst to hit Springfield in years.
(Forguites) ``It's a sad thing for Springfield because it's right in the middle of downtown Springfield. We don't quite know at this point what the future for it is. It's a valuable building because of its location and the only theater in town.''
(Host) Forguites say the fire burned for a long time because the old building had been remodeled several times over the years.
There were several layers of ceilings between the second and third floors, which gave the fire space to smolder for hours.
The American Red Cross and local agencies are working with residents of the building to find new homes.