Large Evanston fire destroys businesses in mixed-use building

Monday, January 29, 2024
Businesses destroyed in large Evanston fire
A fire in Evanston, IL at 1402 Greenleaf Street destroyed several businesses on Sunday night.

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- A large fire in an Evanston building left two stores destroyed Sunday night, authorities said.

Fire officials said the structure is a total loss. Fortunately, it was unoccupied at the time of the fire and there were no reports of injuries.

Meanwhile, several businesses inside were destroyed.

It was a painful morning for several Evanston business owners trying to process the devastation.

Amber Matthews owns Fireheads Clay Studio, which was ravaged by the fire. People have been helping her save some pieces that didn't burn.

"I'm just trying to pull a few things out," Matthews said. "My business partner has a piece that's going to a gallery this week, so trying to save that anything we could without endangering anyone."

Four businesses perished, including two pottery shops, a yoga studio and a production office for Stuart-Rodgers Photography.

Laura Jeffris works as a photo editor there. She said she's in shock.

"It's devastation because it's also... there's so many photography stuff there," she said. "It's a huge this is it's also this building, people walk their dogs by. They get their biscuits. It's part of the community."

The fire broke out at around 8:30 p.m. at 1402 Greenleaf Street, and it was quickly upgraded to a three-alarm fire.

Shaina Young has a yoga studio in the building and went there to check out a security alert.

"In my wildest dreams did not envision this," Young said. "I have a friend who lives a few houses in, and I sat in her house to get out of the smoke, and then we came back out thinking, 'Oh, it's gonna be smaller,' and it was bigger."

The flames grew so large that fire fighters from nearby cities came to help including Chicago.

'It's a big loss in many ways. Not just the business, but the community is just incredible," Young said.

Fire officials said when crews arrived, the fire spread quickly and it took about three and a half hours to get ahead of it.

"It's horrific," witness Zuleyka Benitaz said. "It's horrific shouldn't happen anywhere. And they are anchors in the neighborhood."

Neighbors said this was a meeting spot for people in the community and they're calling it a big loss.

"It's really sad because there's not a lot of buildings that are nestled into residential areas and now they're going to knock it down, obviously," neighbor Sunni Barbera said.

Fire officials said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.