New Trier Township hall in Winnetka is closed until further notice after an electric problem caused a basement fire early in the morning on Sunday, March 28, officials said.
John Ripka, deputy fire chief of the Winnetka Fire Department, told The Record that emergency units responded at approximately 3:46 a.m. Sunday after the fire alarm at the building was activated.
Crews entered the building but could not immediately extinguish the fire because it involved electricity, Ripka said.
An activated sprinkler head held the fire in check until firefighters shut down the power and extinguished the rest of the fire, Ripka said.
The building was reportedly empty and there were no injuries to firefighters or citizens.
The fire caused “fairly significant” damage, Ripka said, but it was mostly contained to one room and inside the building.
The department believes the fires was started by “electric problem with some significant arcing,” which is a flash of electricity that escapes an open wire or outlet.
Gail Eisenberg, who’s currently a township trustee and is running uncontested for the role of township supervisor, said officials are currently “assessing the damage and attempting to mitigate our losses.”
The New Trier Township Food Pantry is serviced in the Township building.
Eisenberg also told The Record that some food that was being stored in the freezers and refrigerators was lost, but that officials got most of it over to Northfield Township’s food pantry in time.
The majority of dry goods were not on the floor and the fire did not damage food storage, she said.
As of publication time, officials do not yet have a reopening date set, as the building is currently without electricity.
The Northfield Township will temporarily serve New Trier Township food pantry users, Eisenberg said, adding that any additional information will be provided as it becomes available.
“We’re working diligently to contact any users that we’re expecting over this week so they know where to go and we’re hoping to have as little disruption to service as possible,” she said.
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Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.