[cifnmedia] Fire closes main post office (Springfield il)

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2004 08:15:48 -0800 (PST)

Fire closes main post office 


Springfield's main post office is expected to be closed until Thursday because 
of an electrical fire that cut off power to the building Tuesday morning.

Damage from the fire was estimated at $100,000.

Postal officials said the closing of the facility at 2105 E. Cook St. should 
not slow local mail delivery, although residents in at least one subdivision 
were still waiting for their mail Tuesday night.

The fire started a little after 8:30 a.m. in an electrical box in the boiler 
room of the building.

Bernie Coady, a battalion chief with the Springfield Fire Department, said the 
electrical box was about 8-by-8 feet and 2 feet deep. When firefighters 
arrived, there was still electrical power going into the box, and flames were 

Firefighters turned off the power and were able to put the fire out with 
extinguishers. Portable fans were used to clear out the smoke.

What caused the blaze hadn't been determined, but Coady said it appeared an 
air-conditioning unit was being installed and someone was getting ready to run 
electrical wires to the electrical box.

Sue Litterly, customer relations coordinator for the U.S. Postal Service in 
Springfield, said electricians are searching for parts to repair the damage as 
quickly as possible. Postal officials hope the facility can be reopened to the 
public by 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

Until then, Litterly asked that people use the post office's other Springfield 
facilities: downtown at 411 E. Monroe St. and at 1760 Wabash Ave. in the 
Chatham Square Shopping Center. Hours at the Monroe Street office are 7:30 a.m. 
to 5 p.m., and the Chatham Square facility is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Customers also can visit one of the following post office contract stations, 
where they can mail cards and letters and buy stamps: Noonan True Value, 801 
North Grand Ave. E.; Laketown Printing, 1826 Stevenson Drive; and the the 
University of Illinois at Springfield, near the bursar's office.

The Cook Street post office is where mail for Springfield and the surrounding 
area is sorted.

Automated machines are used in the sorting process, and without power, those 
machines can't function. Until the power problem is fixed, Springfield-area 
mail will be diverted to such other cities as Champaign, Bloomington, Peoria 
and St. Louis for sorting. The mail will then be returned to Springfield in the 
early morning so it can then be delivered by mail carriers.

"There won't be a delay in mail delivery," Litterly said. "(But) it will add a 
longer day to the people working at those other plants."

About 350 employees work at the Cook Street facility, and about 100 were on 
duty at the time of the fire.

Litterly said the sorting operation runs on a 24-hour cycle. When the fire 
broke out, workers had just completed a cycle, which meant that all of the mail 
had been cleared from the stacking machines and was being loaded for shipment.

"If the power was going to go out, that was the best possible time," she said.

Litterly added that unless employees are specifically told otherwise, they 
should report to work as usual today.

"We are still going to need people on the dock. We are going to need mail 
handlers," she said.

About a dozen customers were in the post office at the time of the fire, and 
all were evacuated without any difficulties.

"Everybody is safe. That's the most important thing," Litterly said.

John Reynolds can be reached at 788-1524 or john.reynolds@xxxxxxxxx

Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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