Second City offices damaged in 3-alarm Old Town fire

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CHICAGO (STMW) - Three people were injured, including two firefighters, by a smoky extra-alarm fire Wednesday afternoon in the Old Town neighborhood.

Although the fire spared the Second City Theater, firefighters are still trying to save it from water damage. There’s about 2 feet of water in a room above the theater, according to Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago.

“We’re working with a lot of water. We’re taking our time because we don’t want to destroy the Second City Theater,” Santiago said.

Santiago said the Second City offices contained memorabilia, which were destroyed in the blaze. The offices sustained major smoke and water damage, he said.

About 150 firefighters battled the blaze, which started at 12:42 p.m. with a 911 caller reporting a kitchen fire at the Adobo Grill. That fire shot straight up the kitchen vent to the roof.

The fire spread quickly to the Second City offices. It also spread to neighboring Pipers Alley but was quickly put out, Santiago said.

Firefighters usually create a hole and let the water drain through, but they don’t want to damage the theater.

The building that housed the restaurant and offices was built in the 1800s. It’s a historic landmark, according to Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd).

"These buildings are orange rated, they are historic landmarks, they are an important part of the Old Town community. We may have lost one, we're not sure yet," Alderman Hopkins said.

Hopkins said all that remains of the building is its facade. He said the building is in jeopardy of being demolished.

As firefighters poured water into the building’s turret, chunks of the building began to fall onto the street below.

The fire was struck out at 3:55 p.m.

An Adobo employee suffered minor smoke inhalation, Santiago said. One firefighter suffered a shoulder injury and another suffered exhaustion, he said.

Firefighters at 4:30 p.m. were continuing their efforts to divert the water above the theater, down a stairway. Santiago said it’s very tricky and dangerous because the weight of the water could cause a collapse.

“Right now there’s really no damage to the theater but at any given time the water can redirect itself and we may have a problem,” he said.

Late this afternoon, Second City actor Tim Sniffen posted on Facebook: “Apparently the fire is out & the firemen are now workshopping a bunch of scenes where they could never quite nail the ending.”

Second City's Facebook page posted the following message Wednesday night: "We are safe," and we'll release an updated schedule for the week when we know more.

Second City officials say that historic archives and memorabilia are stored at another location.

Neighborhood officials hope both buildings can be saved.

"It's just really sad because it's a historic landmark in Old Town, and Adobo Grill is, my husband and I go there twice a month," said eyewitness Jessica Kirksey.