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Extra-Alarm Blaze Destroys Bronzeville Commercial Strip

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An extra-alarm fire gutted a commercial building in Bronzeville, causing the roof to collapse. (Credit: CBS)

An extra-alarm fire gutted a commercial building in Bronzeville, causing the roof to collapse. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Firefighters spent nearly five hours extinguishing the flames of an extra-alarm fire in Bronzeville overnight.

CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports crews remained on the scene early Tuesday, putting out hotspots and guarding against a rekindling of the blaze that consumed three businesses along the 300 block of East Pershing Road.

The fire started around 11 p.m. on Monday at a commercial strip that housed Baba’s Steak & Lemonade, a hair salon, and a cell phone store. Nearly 200 firefighters were called to the scene as the fire was raised to a 3-11 alarm.

The owner of Baba’s said he called 911 after smelling smoke.

“I feel bad,” Mossa Abuzanhl said. He’s owned the restaurant for five years.

Flames could be seen shooting through the roof as the fire burned for hours.

If it wasn’t for the quick thinking of firefighters during the blaze, there could have been serious injuries. The building’s truss roof collapsed shortly after the chief on the scene pulled crews out of the building. No one was inside when the roof came down.

“A lot of storage inside the building; there’s a lot of appliances, things like that. And, also, in the back of the structure there was a lot of tires, which … definitely caused the fire to burn quicker,” Fire Chief William Vogt said.

The fire was officially struck out shortly before 4 a.m., but firefighters remained at the scene hours later, as a precaution, in case the fire flared up again.

Fire officials said the cause of the blaze was under investigation. Building inspectors were expected to arrive later in the day Tuesday to assess the damage before letting anyone inside the burned-out structure.

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