Brides In Limbo After Oak Lawn Shop Burns

Updated: 11/18/10 11:11 a.m.

OAK LAWN, Ill. (CBS) – Nervous brides and bridesmaids are desperate for answers as they scramble for Plan B, after one of the oldest bridal shops in the country went up in flames in Oak Lawn.

An extra-alarm fire broke out around 3 p.m. Wednesday at Eva’s Bridals of Oak Lawn, 4811 W. 95th St. An employee spotted smoke on the roof and called 911.

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Court records suggest the past few years have not been easy for the family that owns of Eva’s Bridals: Lawsuits were filed against them by creditors to collect money.

RELATED NEWS: Lake Zurich Bridal Shop Owner Offers Advice To Panicked Brides

The perfect wedding for Ashley Kuhl went up in smoke when the bridal shop brurned.

“I guess I just feel kind of shocked. It’s just really sad,” Kuhl said.

She and others say it’s hard to look at home video of the fire and the smoke.

Her mother couldn’t hold back tears.

“All the girls, and all the time, and all the investment, and just, it’s beautiful,” she said.

The third-generation family owned business is an institution in Oak Lawn. But now, a pile of charred debris is all that remains.

Fire officials say four other nearby businesses were damaged including a Radio Shack and a Chiro-Med. But it was the bridal store fire that brought the heartbreak.

Brides-to-be and their loved ones have been showing up to see the damage for themselves, hoping somehow their dresses survived the fire, but many are not finding the answers they were looking for.

“It’s my daughter’s wedding, and it’s one of the biggest moments in her life as well as mine,” said Linda Wright, mother of a bride.

Peggy Mason says her daughter Maggie’s dress took six months to make and she was looking forward to wearing it as she walked down the aisle Saturday, but the dress was destroyed in the blaze. They are hoping they can find a replacement in time.

“She’s distraught. She’s terrible. But, you know, it’s a dress. We’ll get through it. She’ll get married on Saturday,” said Mason.

There were hugs and comfort for Kuhl, who had just shown up to pick up her dress for the big day, which for her is Dec. 4. Now all she has are the pictures.

Her groom-to-be, Rick Piwowarski, tried to put in perspective.

“It’s a dress,” Piwowarski said. “It’s a huge deal, but it’s not as if we’re getting married tomorrow. So we will find you another dress and you’ll look even more beautiful, and we’ll be fine.”

Investigators are still searching for a cause to the fire, and hope to determine one later Thursday.

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Court records suggest the past few years have not been easy for the owners of Eva’s Bridals: Lawsuits were filed against them by creditors to collect money.

An attorney who worked with one member of the family says the ill-fated Oak Lawn shop and the Eva’s Bridals shop in Orland Park were owned by two factions of the same family.

Factions who didn’t always see eye-to-eye.

And eviction procedures had been under way this year against the Orland Park shop for alleged non-payment of rent: More than $50,000 in back rent.

The owner of the bridal shop says she wants to help these devastated brides get dresses. She is setting up a number that brides can call to get information on their orders. The number should be up and running by Thursday: (630) 747-1911.

Eva’s Bridal hopes to quickly open a satellite location near the burned-out store to service brides with upcoming weddings in the next several days, according to a statement posted on the store’s website.

“There are no words to describe how we feel about today’s tragic event and fire; we cannot even imagine how you may feel,” the statement said in part. Store owners are “grateful for no physical injuries” and are working “hand in hand” with designers to deliver gowns on time.

CBS 2’s Pamela Jones, Roseanne Tellez and Mai Martinez contributed to this report.

More from Lisa Fielding
  • Kim Tran

    It’s terrible, me and my maid of honor were in the shop getting my dress fitted when all of a sudden we heard someone yell “call 911!” we didn’t know what happened. We were the only customers in the shop. As we grabbed our coats and rushed out, we saw everything go up in flames. I just wished I knew what was going on to have grabbed my dress. I feel bad for all of the other brides like me who lost their dress to the fire

  • bill

    Paris House of Bridal is saddened to hear of the fire at Eva’s Bridal.
    As a bridal salon that suffered the same ordeal in the past, we understand what a devastation it is. We understand the stress brides may now face and would like to offer a selection of free bridal gowns to brides who have weddings in in the next few weeks.
    We will assist you in making sure your wedding is a success helping any bride or party member. We are willing to offer 24 hour rush service. We have thousands of gowns in stock and will do everything possible to accommodate you.

    (219) 874-7786.

  • Tristen

    Bill…You are a saint.

    • Lori

      Whether he is a saint or an opportunist, I wish the brides happiness.

  • Katie

    Bill, You will be blessed. I hope all the brides and people who had dresses see this message. A wedding is a huge day for a bride. I want to thank you.

  • Christine

    I have a size 24 dress that has never been worn. It has a cathedral train, long sleeves. The back is open in a heart shape. I paid over $800 and would be willing to offer it at an extremely reduced rate if it helps someone else.

    You can email me if you want. I live in Orland Park.

  • Bridal Shop Fire Offers View Into ‘Cutthroat Business’ « CBS Chicago – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago

    […] (WBBM) – Authorities say there’s no indication that this week’s fire at Eva’s Bridals in Oak Lawn was suspicious. But the attorney for the owners says he won’t draw any […]

  • Melstrel

    That’s such a shame. After seeing the stress my sister went through to while getting her dress, I can’t even image how terrible brides feel who have a wedding coming up. My friend wrote a blog post on this. She makes a really good point, if two people are in love it doesn’t matter what they are wearing on the day they celebrate their marriage. Check out the post:

  • Tracy

    Eva’s Bridal is going above and beyond to help brides. My sister’s wedding is next week and her dress was one of those lost. My sister and I have been on the phone with Eva’s owner and staff since the day of the fire. They got a designer to send the last dress they have – an exact match to the one my sister bought two months ago. Everyone seems to be trying to come up with some story about Eva’s – but the truth is – they have been nothing but gracious under pressure and working 24/7 to get all their brides into new dresses or refunded.

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