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iO Theater Comes To Second City's Rescue After Fire Destroys Its Offices

By Mina Bloom | August 26, 2015 6:09pm | Updated on August 26, 2015 6:28pm
 Damages to the area near Second City's theater per the Chicago Fire Department.
Damages to the area near Second City's theater per the Chicago Fire Department.
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OLD TOWN — The city's other improv hub, iO Theater, rushed to help Second City after its offices were destroyed in an extra-alarm blaze Wednesday afternoon. 

"I walked down and saw my friends and their jobs went up in flames. ... That sounds very dramatic, but it could happen to anyone. All of us who work here ... we go watch show there, we take classes there. The theater community in Chicago is very tight-knit. They're our friends and of course we're going to help them," said Rachel Copel, assistant manager at iO Theater, 1501 N. Kingsbury St.

About seven or eight Second City box office workers were invited to iO Theater's space to call ticket holders and let them know that Wednesday night's shows were cancelled after the fire "destroyed" the iconic theater's offices and left three people with non-life threatening injuries, including two firefighters.

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"They would do the same thing for us," she added.

The blaze started about 1:20 p.m. as a grease fire in the kitchen of Adobo Grill, which is on the ground floor of the building at 1612 N. Wells, according to the Chicago Fire Department. The fire was "under control" as of 3:42 p.m. and "struck out" at 3:55 p.m.

About an hour after the blaze started, two firefighters were injured and the offices of Second City were "destroyed," fire officials and witnesses said on Twitter. The offices are located on the second and third floors of the building, but the theater itself is next door.

CFD spokesman Larry Langford said the firefighters were in "stable" condition and that their injuries were not serious. Another person on the scene suffered minor smoke inhalation, Langford said.

CFD spokesman Larry Langford explains how the fire spread:

In addition to iO Theater, comedy club Laugh Factory Chicago, 3175 N. Broadway, offered support, saying "Hope everyone is safe over at @TheSecond City @SecondCity ChiTC and Pipers Alley."

Around 5 p.m., a continuous stream of water was seen pouring out of the building. Around 5:30 p.m., the Chicago Fire Department tweeted a photo of the iconic theater itself, saying "Theater looks good!" 

But its offices and the area around the theater didn't fare so well, as seen in another photo posted by the department on Twitter.

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