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Overnight Fire Closes Southwest Side Daycare Center

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Chicago firefighters respond to a fire at a daycare center in the 3700 block of West 55th Street on July 18, 2013. (Credit: CBS)

Chicago firefighters respond to a fire at a daycare center in the 3700 block of West 55th Street on July 18, 2013. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – An electrical fire overnight at a Southwest Side daycare center has left the owner scrambling to find a new location to send dozens of kids Thursday morning.

Los Pequenos Angelitos, at 3711 W. 55th St., was supposed to open at 6 a.m. About 50 children typically get dropped off at the daycare every day, but on Thursday it was being boarded up after a fire.

Around 3:30 a.m., firefighters responded to a fire at the daycare, after a passerby noticed flames and heavy smoke coming from the building.

Battalion Chief Joe Quinn said it appeared the fire had been smoldering inside for three to four hours before anyone noticed.

He said the fire started in the daycare center office, under a computer desk. The circuits overloaded, causing a spark.

About 37 firefighters came out, and put it out in about an hour and a half.

Firefighters had to deal not only with the intense heat from the fire, but also with the hot weather, as it was nearly 80 degrees outside at the time.

That’s why crews came prepared, bringing a rehab truck that can help firefighters avoid heat exhaustion.

“We have a rehab vehicle that comes out. The guys can take a break. They’ll take their clothes off. It comes with water and everything to give them a little energy again,” Quinn said. “The next couple of days is really going to be bad.”

Quinn said firefighters request a rehab vehicle at any fire where they expect to be working for an extended period of time.

Since the fire was put out so quickly, the rehab truck was not needed at this fire.

“We’re in a heat advisory … and with these fire coats that we’ve got on, yes, they can be spent very quickly in this kind of a condition,” Quinn said. “Luckily, we were able to knock the fire. It was contained in the office area, so we were able to contain it, and put it out within about an hour and a half.”

Firefighters were able to cool off on their own, but the trucks could come in very handy in other situations on Thursday and Friday, as the heat wave continues.

Meantime, the priority for the daycare owners was finding a new location to take the children.

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