MT. PROSPECT, Ill. (CBS) — It’s not how anyone wants to celebrate Christmas.
Fire gutted the apartments of two Mount Prospect families early this morning. Fortunately, as CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, the extra efforts of firefighters and social workers are helping preserve the holiday.
In a fire-gutted apartment, where the ceiling has collapsed, Lorena Marquez said she is thankful this Christmas for the little things.
Firefighters managed to salvage the family Christmas tree. Her children’s gifts were moved to an untouched bedroom and their pet bird survived the smoke and flames.
“She’s here, she’s going strong. She’s a fighter just like me,” Marquez said.
Most of all, Marquez said she is thankful she, her husband and their four children were visiting family overnight when the blaze broke out.
“I was speechless. I just broke down and I started crying and my husband told me not to worry,” she said.
The fire was sparked in the unit above the Marquez family’s. In that apartment, a mother and her daughters, ages 12 and 7, took refuge in a back bedroom after the fire broke out. They were rescued by Mount Prospect firefighters.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports
“The daughter, for that matter, was able to feel the door – which is one of the things we teach people how to do – and determine there was heat on the other side of the door and kept the door closed and protected the inside,” Deputy Fire Chief Chris Truty said.
The family was evacuated through a window and, though their Christmas presents were a total loss, Mount Prospect firefighters and social workers went the extra mile to salvage a bit of the holiday.
“They were fortunate that, even though this family lost their Christmas gifts, the human services had extra gifts on hand and provided them to the kids, still making some form of Christmas for them,” Truty said.
Friends were coming by on Sunday to check in on Marquez and, though the apartment she’s worked to spruce up for 11 years in now uninhabitable, she’s staying positive.
“I have to. It’s all materialistic and can hopefully be fixed soon so we can be a family and move back in,” she said.
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Crews said the fact each unit had a working smoke alarms kept the blaze from turning deadly.