Fire damages historic Auburn library

AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) Fire damaged the public library in Auburn and the facility is closed “indefinitely.”

Fire broke out around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, July 2, 2017, at the Eckhart Public Library in Auburn.

The Auburn Fire Department was called around 2:30 a.m. to the Eckhart Public Library at 603 S Jackson St. on a report of a fire. Fire Chief Mike VanZile told NewsChannel 15 that crews arrived to find heavy smoke rising from the building, and fire was found on the first floor of the library.

The flames were quickly extinguished, VanZile said, but the library sustained heavy damage to its first floor and smoke and heat damage to its basement and first floor.

It’s not known what caused the fire. VanZile said no one was at the library at the time of the incident.

The state fire marshal has been called in to help with the investigation, he added.

No one was injured.

The library posted on its Facebook page early Sunday that the fire broke out on the expanded side of its building. The historical fountain was not damaged in the fire, but it was not running because officials cut the water and electricity to the building, according to the post.

With the damage, the library said in the post that it will be closed “indefinitely.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support and concern from the community,” the library wrote in the post.

The library’s director, Janelle Graber, was in Indianapolis when she was notified of the fire at about 3:30 a.m. She drove to Auburn immediately. She said there is smoke damage throughout the entire building. Books, materials, furnishings and computers were all damaged.

“Right now, I’m going through what I feel like is a library director’s worst nightmare,” she said. “Water and fire are two things we always insure for, but I always fear. I was trying not to faint when I saw it. It was very difficult to see.”

Graber said while the main building is closed, they will still be providing as many services as they can through the other three buildings on their campus, the Willennar Administrative Annex, Willenar Genealogy Center, and Teen Library.

“It’s all repairable and we’re putting an action plan into place,” she explained. “The insurance company has been here. The restoration companies have been here. I mean we’re moving on, but the focus of the staff and board is to create the best experience for our patrons to be able to offer library services to our community at the highest level that we can by utilizing the three other buildings that we have on campus.”