A spectacular fire occurred overnight destroying the vacant Newcomb Hotel in Quincy, IL.
The Newcomb Hotel was destroyed in a devastating five-alarm fire Friday night. Firefighers were expected to remain at the scene through the morning.
Flames shot out of the roof, and firefighters were pulled back in case of collapse.
The fire was discovered by a passing motorist … about 8:40 p.m.
Firefighters initially entered the building to extinguish a fire on the second floor on the west side of the former hotel, which opened in March 1888. However, they were unable to contain the blaze. At 9 p.m. firefighters were battling heavy flames in the three-story addition on the east side that partially collapsed during an April storm. Eventually flames overtook the main building, as well.
The city appeared to have turned a corner on the long-vacant building.
Last week, the city agreed to enter negotiations with an Iowa developer to potentially renovate the building into market-rate apartments. The city was also trying to foreclose on the property, which is owned by Skokie developer Victor Horowitz after he failed to pay off a $500,000 loan he received from the city in 2003.
“I’m nauseous,” said Travis Brown, executive director of the Historic Quincy Business District, who stood at Fourth and Maine looking at the burning building. “This is the closest we’ve come in the five years I’ve been here. We finally get to enter negotiations with a legitimate developer who is eager to do the building, and right before we start the negotiations, you see flames coming out the side of it.”
Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning told reporters about 10:30 p.m. that the Newcomb “is gone.” He told reporters at about 11:40 p.m. that the fire was under control.
He said firefighters’ biggest concern as the hotel burned was keeping the flames out of the Gardner Museum on the west side of Fourth Street. He said crews were on the roof of the Lincoln-Douglas Apartment building at the northwest corner of Fourth and Maine, keeping an eye on that building, as well. Residents of the apartments were evacuated to the Quincy Senior and Family Resource Center, 639 York.
“This is one of those buildings we don’t take risks in,” Henning said. “We were trying to keep it contained to that area, but there was just too much there,”
Quincy firefighters brought in two aerial trucks to battle the fire as more of the building collapsed.
At 9:34 p.m., firefighters said they were worried that the chimney on the building addition was going to collapse.