Massive 3-Alarm Fire Tears Through Aurora Masonic Temple

A massive blaze tore through an historic building in west suburban Aurora late Monday night.

At around 10 p.m., firefighters responded to a fire with heavy smoke at the Masonic Temple, located at 104 S. Lincoln Ave., according to Aurora Fire Department Battalion Chief Jim Rhodes.

The blaze was quickly elevated to a three-alarm fire, Rhodes said. Flames could be seen shooting from the roof of the building, lighting up Aurora's downtown district.

The Masonic Temple is a well-known structure in the area, built in 1922 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Currently vacant, the building was a temple for decades, then used as a banquet facility in the 1980s before closing its doors completely in 2006.

"After nearly 100 years, this historic temple has seen its final day," Mayor Richard Irvin said. "The Masonic temple had been in our conversations as a fine place for redevelopment, but that conversation came to an end today." 

Crews continued to battle the massive fire into Tuesday morning. Officials said the ceiling caved in on the five-story structure overnight and it remained unknown as of early Tuesday which portions of the building, if any, would be salvageable.

The blaze rendered the temple structurally unstable, Aurora Fire Chief Gary Krienitz said at the scene early Tuesday. Krienitz added that the temple's roof and part of the facade had already collapsed, and that the entire area was blocked off out of fear that the walls could come down as well.

He also said that debris from the blaze hit an electrical line, forcing ComEd to shut off power in the area and causing a small outage.

Officials have been forced to evacuate at least one family from near the building due to concerns about its stability. 

No injuries were reported in the fire, officials said, but five homes in the area were evacuated. Fire officials said crews will likely remain on the scene all day Tuesday, with the focus on securing the area and getting people back into their homes safely.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

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