Reporting Bob Roberts
Updated: 12/07/10 7:37 p.m.
NORTHLAKE, Ill. (CBS) – A smoky two-alarm fire Tuesday, apparently caused by a roofer’s torch, gutted a gentlemen’s club in west suburban Northlake.
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The fire began on the roof, and raced through the one-story frame building housing the All Stars’ Gentlemen’s Club, at 11645 Grand Ave.
Leyden Fire Protection District Chief Thomas Rafferty said that the club was closed when the fire broke out, and that the only people on the property were two roofers, who were using a torch in conjunction with repairs to the building’s roof.
“We knew it was far along when we got here, so our first responsibility was to determine that there was no one in the building, which we verified quickly, and secondly to set up exposure protection for the buildings that are nearby, which we did,” he said.
He said when the first units pulled up, much of the building was already ablaze and that the roof began to collapse shortly thereafter.
Plumes of black smoke belched from the burning building, a short distance from the Tri-State Tollway, for about 90 minutes, until firefighters were able to get the fire under control.
The building was of older frame construction “with addition built onto addition” over the years,” Rafferty said. The propane tanks left behind by the roofers as they escaped also exploded and fed the fire.
The club is surrounded by commercial structures. Rafferty said that, because of the firefighting effort, damage to surrounding buildings was limited to minor heat damage.
Approximately 70 firefighters from a dozen suburban departments responded to Leyden’s call for mutual aid. Rafferty said there were minor problems obtaining the needed water from nearby hydrants because of the cold.