No injuries reported in Chinatown blaze

September 19, 2008 2:29:24 PM PDT
Chicago firefighters are on the scene of a blaze at the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago in Chinatown.There are no reports of injuries, according to CFD Spokeswoman Eve Rodriguez.

Emergency crews responded to the call and found the two top floors of the four-story building on fire. Flames were coming through the roof.

Officials have not determined the cause of the blaze.

Chicago firefighters say they had a difficult time trying to tackle the fire Friday afternoon. The fire started at about 2 p.m. It is also the home of the Raymond B. and Jean T. Lee Center.

The museum opened back in 2005 after extensive renovations. The architect who designed part of the museum said the first and second floors had been completed and he recently got a construction permit to start work on the third and fourth floors.

He said the museum honors Chinese immigrants, and because of that historical significance, he says it's certainly a loss for the Chinatown community.

"We saw the fire coming out from the third floor, and the third and fourth floor are all broken up. It's pretty bad," architect Kinman Auyeung said.

The museum closed at 1:30 Friday afternoon. The fire reportedly started after that. Fire officials said they've already entered the third and fourth floors, investigating if that's where the fire originated. They believe the damage goes from the first, second and third floors.

Fire officials are also said 140 firefighters responded and the first firemen who arrived at the scene actually went inside the building to try to save some of the artifacts on the first floor. But once the fire was too intense, they had to leave the building and start attacking the fire from outside.

Both Raymond Lee and Auyeung watched from the side of the street as the building burned. Auyeung said he hopes they'll restore the museum after the fire is out.


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