WHEATON – Metra officials do not know when the Wheaton train station on Front Street will reopen following a fire at the station Nov. 22.
No one was injured in the fire, which has been determined to be accidental in nature. The building was unoccupied at the time of the fire.
The station shelter is inaccessible, and the ticket office will be closed until further notice. However, trains continue to operate on a normal schedule, and service will not be affected. The public address system also is currently inoperable until further notice, and riders are urged to use caution near the platform and to check metrarail.com for any platform changes.
Metra also operates the College Avenue train station at 303 N. President St., next to Wheaton College. Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said he doesn't know if there has been an increase in ridership at that station because of the closure of the Front Street station.
"It's kind of hard to tell," he said. "We don't have turnstiles in our stations, so we can't really count them. There may be some other people going over there. We are still stopping at the Front Street station. People who are used to going to that station are probably going to keep going to the station."
At about 10:50 p.m. Nov. 22, the Wheaton Fire Department was dispatched to an automatic fire alarm at the train station at 402 W. Front St. in downtown Wheaton, according to a news release from the city of Wheaton.
Upon arrival, fire crews identified a fire in a storage/furnace room on the building's north side, the release stated. The fire was brought under control within minutes, according to the release.
The city of Wheaton leases the building from Metra. After conducting a fire investigation, the Fire Department said the fire appears to have been related to a malfunctioning heater unit, the release stated.
Fire officials said it is unknown exactly how the unit started the fire – whether it was an electrical malfunction or an overheated motor – but it was identified as a contributing factor, according to the release.
Damage estimates are not available at this time. The building was posted as unsafe for occupancy because of the damage, the release stated.
The Wheaton Fire Department was assisted on the scene by the Wheaton Police Department and several fire departments from neighboring communities, according to the release.