Midtown building goes up in flames late Sunday night - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Midtown building goes up in flames late Sunday night


For the second straight week a historic Rockford building goes up in flames. Just before midnight Sunday, the building at 301 7th Street caught fire.

It was another dramatic scene as flames burst out of the roof and shattered windows above the El Olivo grocery store. 

Rockford fire officials tell 13 News the fire was primarily contained to the second and third floors of the building, but the extensive damage will likely make it a total loss.

Massive flames and heavy smoke could be seen for blocks in Rockford's Midtown district. visible flames could be seen pouring from the building for more than an hour, with the worst of it taking place from around 1 a.m. to 2 a.m.

"We received multiple 911 calls that there was a structure fire at 7th Street and 2nd Avenue," said Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten. "Our first units arrived in five minutes and found heavy smoke in the rear of the structure. At that time they began offensive operations to extinguish it. The fire quickly spread to the building just to the west of it. At that time we upgraded to a second alarm. Shortly thereafter went to a third alarm. So at that time we had six engine companies and three aerials."

Bergsten tells 13 WREX that there were no injuries but that the fire spread pretty quickly. Firefighters were able to get the blaze under control by around 2:30 a.m. 

Sam Lafiura, who lives next door to the building that caught fire, says he was awoken by the sound of fireworks near the scene.

"I heard fireworks out back," Lafiura said. "First the power went out, then I walked out back and I saw mortars going off so I grabbed my dog and my flashlight and when I looked out the back patio to the left I saw like the whole back and balcony on fire. It spread to the garage, then firefighters showed up and started spraying everything and then it spread inside."

Fire officials tell 13 WREX they do not believe fireworks were the cause of the fire, but at this time the official cause is still under investigation.

It was just more than a week ago when the Hanley building, in downtown Rockford, went up in flames.  Lucas Chappell, who works with Urban Equity, lives next door to the burned building on 7th Street and says losing these two buildings is sad to see.

"Well it really sucks because a lot of these buildings have a lot of history," Chappell said. "The Hanley building was a huge loss for us. To see that happen, that really sucked, and now this. I feel really bad for the owners. It's just bad."

13 News will continue to provide updates on this story throughout the morning as we learn more.

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