Hillsboro’s historical Weil Arcade goes down in flames

Akash Balakumar, Staff Writer

Around 2:45 a.m. on Jan. 2, the first Sunday of the new year, the local fire department received multiple calls about a fire on Hillsboro’s East Main Street. Arriving at the scene, firefighters saw the city’s 100-year-old Weil Arcade engulfed in flames. 

After declaring the fire to be a level 4 alarm, 130 firefighters from nearby stations came together to help the Hillsboro Fire & Rescue Department. Although there was a sufficient number of firefighters, there were multiple setbacks, such as frozen fire hoses and runoff water freezing on streets and sidewalks, all making it harder to extinguish the fire. To further complicate the situation, the front of the building partially collapsed, as well as the roof, making it unsafe for emergency personnel to enter the building. 

So far, 25 businesses have been affected by damages varying from charred storefronts to water and smoke damage.

A suspect was arrested for starting the fire on Wednesday, Jan. 5. In addition, the person is suspected to be the arsonist of a nearby GMC Sierra and Honda Accord that were set on fire later that same night. 

The suspect was already being looked at by authorities for breaking into a business housed in the Weil Arcade on Dec. 4 and has been arrested 18 different times since 2005. Most recently, he was sentenced in 2020 to serve 16 months in prison for unlawful use of a weapon. Shortly after being released, he was convicted of harassment in August 2021 and was released on probation. 

Currently, his court date is scheduled for Jan. 13, when he will be facing three felony counts of second-degree arson and three felony counts of second-degree burglary.

Seeing the aftermath, the Hillsboro community has come together to support the affected businesses through the online donation platform GoFundMe and by offering temporary office space for anyone affected.

“People are committing crimes without thinking about the damage their actions will cause. This can really affect our community, so we need to come together and use one another as support during this difficult time,” sophomore Megan Dayton stated.

“It’s disturbing to see such a destructive crime being committed so close to home,” sophomore Henry Findtner added. “Arson should be a much more punishable crime, and absolutely no one should be arrested 18 times and still be roaming the streets.”

Megan Dayton photographed by Isabell Garcia
Selfie of Henry Findtner