I don't know if you've heard, but there was a ginormous fire here in Waterloo early Thursday morning. The fire took out the buildings University plaza where Mel's Diner was located, taking out Mel's Dinar, Sugar Mountain, a sushi place, a vision place, and a bar (at one time it was called Loose Change Louie's and was most recently called Tabu). The fire completely gutted these businesses. Caesar Martini's, a restaurant next to Tabu, was spared the fire due to a firewall but it still received a lot of water and smoke damage.
Apparently there were no sprinklers in the businesses - or else they weren't working - and the roofs were combustible; these factors plus the early hour meant that the fire was able to really take hold. They still haven't found the cause of the fire although there is speculation online that it might have been set deliberately. There are rumours that the nightclub wasn't doing well (paying its employees in cash and some hadn't been paid in a while), but whether that would lead to arson, I don't know. It could just as easily have been an accident, or a burner, or a cigarette someone sneaked. Hopefully they'll be able to figure out the cause soon.
It's going to be strange to go by there and not see those businesses anymore. That plaza and those businesses have been part of the fabric of that area for so long that their absence will be keenly felt by many. I wonder whether the businesses will rebuild, there or somewhere else... or if that part of the plaza will be razed and built fresh with new businesses going in.
Either way, I hope that this fire gives the tenants in the other nearby plazas a wake-up call. They all have the same construction, as far as I know. If a fire hit them, they'd go up, too. I hope that they're looking at bringing a working sprinkler system and maybe adding a firewall.
At least there were no people n the buildings when the fire happened and no one was hurt. People were inconvenienced by the road closings and lots of people are going to look at the ruins, but no one was hurt. I do feel for the people who woke up to find their businesses and/or jobs gone.
There's some video of the fire here and here and photos of the aftermath here.