A Wilmette fire official on Monday credited a ceiling sprinkler system for preventing more damage to a downtown Jaguar dealership than the business could otherwise have suffered in an Aug. 11 fire. Wilmette Fire Chief Mike McGreal said damage from the fire at Imperial Motors, 721 Green Bay Road, was largely confined to one car in the display room, though the dealership sustained some water damage.
Firefighters responded to a dealership alarm shortly before midnight on Aug. 11 and discovered that the dealership’s south showroom was filled with smoke, McGreal said. But the fire, which investigators traced to a ceiling light fixture in the southwest section of that showroom, was already out because one of the sprinklers near the fixture had activated, he said.
Crews were on the scene until 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 12, according to the fire department report. Burning material from the ceiling fell on one Jaguar convertible, McGreal said, but damage to the building could have been much worse had the sprinkler system not activated.
“This particular building is all wood, and it has a bolstering truss roof. If the truss had burned out, the whole roof could have gone,” he said, comparing the situation to the February 2015 fire at the Woman’s Club of Wilmette, where flames eventually caused the roof to collapse.
“This is a much better outcome,” McGreal said, adding that Imperial Motors was able to open for business on Aug. 12 after fire crews removed water from the showroom area. The fire department’s initial damage estimate is $130,000, McGreal said. Dealership owner Jordan Aron said Monday that the business has not yet completed its own loss estimate, but confirmed that there was no structural damage to the building.
Aron said the fire will have no effect on plans to renovate Imperial Motors. In July, Wilmette’s Village Board approved the company’s request to allow it to make renovations required by Jaguar of all its dealerships. However, actual renovation work is “a couple of years out,” Aron said.