PRINCETON — The Princeton Fire Department was called to a structure fire at 2:47 p.m. Thursday that broke out in the rear of the building where Security Finance is located in the 500 block of South Main Street.
According to a press release issued by Fire Chief Chuck Woolley, upon arrival at the scene, firefighters found the entire back entryway at 518 S. Main St. involved in flames. The fire was quickly knocked down.
Fire crews searched the fire building and the buildings to either side of the fire origin for possible spread of the fire or victims. There was no fire extension, and all occupants were out and accounted for. No one was injured. Firefighters were on the scene for about two hours.
The owner of the building is Angel L. Gutierrez, who lives in one of the two upstairs apartments in that location.
Woolley said the exterior and back room of the building received water and fire damage, and the rest of the building sustained smoke damage.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, however it has not been deemed suspicious.
The tenants will be displaced until the damage can be fixed.
Two clothing boutiques located to the north and south of the Security Finance building received heavy smoke damage to their structures and inventory.
When the fire broke out, store owners in the surrounding area, as well as shoppers, city officials, employees and just people walking along Main Street rushed to assist the owners of Little Blue Dress (514 S. Main St.) and Five 22 (522 S. Main St.).
Dozens of people could be seen moving inventory and store items outside of the businesses in a rush to save items from being damaged by the heavy smoke.
Both store owners took to Facebook Thursday evening announcing they would be temporarily closed until the smoke damage was cleaned up.
Melissa Jesse, owner of Five 22, wrote on the store’s Facebook page: “I would like to say thank you for the overwhelming response from the community and complete strangers. Today I watched dozens of people, fellow business owners, visitors from other towns, local officials, random people just passing by help get every item in my store pulled out onto the street in less than 20 minutes! I wish that I could find each and every one of you and hug you and say thank you! It is completely amazing to know you live in such an incredible community.”
Gina Nelson, owner of Little Blue Dress, also expressed her gratitude for all the help she received on scene.
"I'm extremely grateful for Princeton police and fire departments. They went above and beyond," she stated.
The Princeton Fire Department was assisted on scene by Princeton Police, Bureau County Sheriff's Office and Princeton Electric Department.