At approximately 5:30 am this morning a fire broke out at Holy Name Cathedral, located at 735 North State Street. The fire began in the attic of the cathedral, just above the sprinkler system and in the east of the transept.
While the origin of the fire is being investigated by the Chicago Fire Department, the fire started in an area where new beams were being installed for structural improvements. The fire left the roofline compromised and the church ceiling exposed.
First responders were on the scene approximately two minutes after the initial call to 911. Engine #98 was the first to arrive at 5:33am. The firefighters of Engine #98 took decisive action which prevented the blaze from spreading throughout the structure with potential catastrophic results for the Cathedral.
Once the Fire Department completed its initial interior and exterior inspections, the fire was upgraded to a second alarm fire at approximately 6:00am and further upgraded to a three-alarm fire at 6:45 a.m. A total of 38 fire companies, including 121 firefighter and paramedic personnel were on the scene to combat the fire. Emergency crews successfully brought the fire under control by 7:30 a.m. and it was extinguished by 8:00 a.m.
Upon learning of the fire at roughly 6:30 a.m., Alderman Reilly rushed to the scene to meet with Fire Commissioner Brooks and 18th Police District Commander Georgas, representatives of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) and Diocesan staff to discuss details related to the emergency and implications for the building and surrounding neighborhood area.
Thankfully no civilians were injured during the emergency and one firefighter suffered minor back injuries and received a precautionary medical evaluation at nearby Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Streeterville. Fire and safety officials are currently on the scene with structural engineers to determine the extent of the damage. Repair crews have been dispatched to the roof to place construction tarps over the exposed roof and ceiling. Another team is working with the Chicago Fire Department to pump water out of the basement and main floor of the church to prevent further damage to the interior.
As a precaution, classes were canceled at the Frances Xavier Warde School for the remainder of the day. The school will remain in contact with students and their families to provide additional status updates regarding the school schedule.
Street closures are in effect at the following locations: State Street, from Chestnut Street to Huron Street Chicago Avenue, from Wabash Avenue to Dearborn Street (with the exception of Chicago Transit Authority buses) Superior Street, eastbound traffic lane to Dearborn
Weekday masses (6:00am, 7:00am, 8:00am, 12:10pm, 5:15pm) will be held again starting tomorrow (Thursday, February 5, 2009), but they'll be in the Parish Center club room.
All vigil masses will be held this weekend (5:15pm and 7:30pm Saturday, 7:00am, 8:15am, 9:30am, 11:00am, 12:30pm, 5:15pm Sunday), but they will be in the auditorium just north of the cathedral. Signs will be posted.
Weekend masses (Saturday 8:00am, 12:10pm) will also be in the club room.