Fire started at Ike’s Underground under investigation

The fire started at Ike's Underground and black smoke spread to the surrounding businesses.
Staff photo The fire started at Ike’s Underground and black smoke spread to the surrounding businesses. Staff photo

It was nearing lunchtime on the Downtown Mall when smoke began pouring out of the building that houses Ike’s Underground Vintage Clothing and Strange Cargo, Miso Sweet and Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar.

Next door at OpenQ, CEO Otavio Freire was in his office, which “filled up very quickly with smoke,” he says. “The smoke was coming in through the brick wall.”

The Charlottesville Fire Department received a call around 11:45am to 414 E. Main St., says Captain Joe Phillips. “A crew arrived to find a basement fire” that was quickly put out, he says.

Even after eight fire trucks and vehicles pulled onto the mall, black smoke was seen coming out of Twisted Branch’s second-floor windows.

Everyone in those buildings and in buildings on the south side of the 400 block of the mall was evacuated, and no one was injured, says Phillips.

The cause is under investigation, but firefighters were overheard saying an electrical fire started in the basement at Ike’s.

The building was the scene of a small fire in 2006 shortly after Eppie’s opened in the space where Miso Sweet is now located. “We were doing our own laundry to save money, and some clean rags—in a laundry bag, but still hot from the dryer—spontaneously combusted,” says Eppie’s owner Dan Epstein.

“We were lucky,” he says, because the bag was dropped at the front door on a Sunday and put out within about 10 minutes. If it had been anywhere else in the building, it would have been a different story, he says.

—with additional reporting by Jessica Luck and Melissa Angell


Posted In:     News

Tags:     , , , , , , ,

Previous Post

In brief: Bad tantrum, McDonnell lucks out and more

Next Post

Celebrate the Fourth of July with a bang

Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to

Leave a Reply

Notify of