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A fire occurred at about 8 p.m. on July 3 at the YMCA, 1000 Grove Street. City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl visited the scene a little after 11 p.m. on July 3. The following details from the City Manager were gathered from his talking to Evanston Fire Department and YMCA staff on the scene. They were all busy responding to the emergency, so some times and details may ultimately be corrected:
Upon arrival we learned that locations throughout downtown Evanston were experiencing power outages beginning in the late afternoon. The YMCA had experienced outage(s) from about 4:30 PM. At approximately p.m. a fire started in a ComEd transformer room at the YMCA. It is believed that the fire was started by a power surge as ComEd was attempting to restore power in the area. There was fire and smoke coming from the room which the Fire Department did not have immediate access. The YMCA was evacuated. No YMCA resident or Fire personnel were injured as the fire was extinguished. However, power could not immediately be restored to the YMCA facility.
EFD and YMCA staff contacted the American Red Cross to begin the process to open an emergency shelter. It was determined that Robert Crown Center would be used. Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department staff were still working there this evening from other events. Two PRCS buses were brought out to transport YMCA residents (believed to be about 90 residents) to Crown. In addition volunteers from the City’s Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) were dispatched to Crown to help set up the emergency shelter. As of 12:30 a.m. Red Cross had arrived at Crown with cots, food and other supplies for the night. Aldermen Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, and Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, were also at the Crown Center to support the efforts.
YMCA Executive Director Bill Geiger said the plan for the morning is to work with electricians and ComEd to get power back on in a portion of the building so that the cots could be relocated to the Y. ComEd was still having electrical problems in the area this evening. The Best Western Hotel was without power as of 12:30 a.m. on July 4, but power was on at other area businesses.
Kudos to Tom Janetske and the EFD for their outstanding work. Also thanks to Bob Dorneker and the PRCS staff for mobilizing Robert Crown and the buses so quickly.