Downtown Mt. Morris building destroyed in afternoon fire

Mt. Morris firefighters responded first to a structure fire at the corner of Main Street and Wesley Avenue in downtown Mt. Morris on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The wooden structure housed two apartments and Sharky's Sports Bar. No injuries were reported. Firefighters from many area departments battled high winds during the afternoon blaze.

MOUNT MORRIS — No one was injured Tuesday afternoon when a fire destroyed a downtown business, prompting the closure of several streets as crews battled to contain flames fueled by strong winds.

Fire Chief Rob Hough IV said his department received the call at 1:33 p.m. after a citizen reported seeing flames coming from an apartment in the downtown building.

“We had a citizen come into the fire station to report that they saw some flames in an apartment downtown,” said Hough. “I came to investigate and there was heavy fire venting from the window on the downstairs apartment on the Main Street side of the building.”

The building, located on the corner of Wesley Avenue and Main Street in the village’s downtown, housed an apartment and Sharky’s Sports Bar.

People inside the upstairs apartment and the bar evacuated safely when Hough arrived. Flames inside the two-story structure could be seen shooting through the roof on the north side of the building where Sharky’s was located.

The building is bordered by the Shell gas station on the north separated by a parking area and Rockford Bell Credit Union on the east, separated by a walkway.

Fire crews from many area departments including Oregon, Dixon, Byron, and Polo, responded to the scene as other law enforcement officers blocked off blocks surrounding the scene and at one point, rerouting traffic on state Route 64 as debris from the fire was blowing across Wesley Avenue toward the highway.

Volunteers from the Mt. Morris fire and ambulance department’s incident response team brought bottled water and snacks to firefighters as they battled the blaze. Some local businesses donated food and water to the effort.

Fire crews also worked under the threat of incoming thunderstorms.

“The fire grew rapidly,” Hough said in a brief interview around 2:45 p.m. “The wind is not helping. We did evacuate the credit union as well. Everyone is accounted for. There are no injuries to firefighters or the public at this point.”

Village President Phil Labash said when he learned of the fire and arrived at the scene the building was fully engulfed. He praised the quick efforts of the fire department for stopping the fire from spreading to other nearby structures.

“I certainly appreciate job the fire department has done here today to put the fire out and for keeping our citizens safe. Especially with the wind today,” Labash said.

The fire’s cause has yet to be determined.

Earleen Hinton

Earleen Hinton

Earleen creates content and oversees production of 8 community weeklies. She has worked for Shaw Newspapers since 1985.