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Extra-Alarm Fire Guts Berwyn Bike Shop

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Updated 01/16/14 – 11:28 a.m.

BERWYN, Ill. (CBS) – A family-owned bike shop in west suburban Berwyn was a total loss, after an extra-alarm fire early Thursday.

The fire started shortly before 4 a.m., in the rear of Art’s Bicycle Shop, at 6212 W. Cermak Rd. in Berwyn.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports a husband and wife escaped from the apartment above the store. They were taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, as a precaution, to check for smoke inhalation.

By 5:20 a.m., firefighters raised a second alarm, due to the intense flames, and problems with the cold.

It wasn’t long before the roof collapsed, and weather became an obstacle for firefighters, because of ice that formed from all the water they were using.

“Cold weather throws some more structure hazards in for us, and some slips and fall hazards,” Berwyn Fire Chief Denis O’Halloran said.

Though firefighters extinguished the blaze by 8:30 a.m., they were still putting out hot spots as of 10:40 a.m.

At the height of the blaze, power lines could be seen exploding as crews battled heavy flames.

The bike shop’s owner, Barry Kerstein, said his family has owned the store and the apartment above since his father opened the shop in 1946, and he is heartbroken about the fire.

“It’s everything I ever did, and my mom’s still around. She’s 88 years old. She doesn’t even know about it yet, and it’s just, it’s like our DNA,” he said. “I was numb. I thank God that the two tenants got out of there okay,” he said. “I’ve been around here since I’m 13 years old. I’m 54, and I’m just watching it, and it’s sick. I hope to God we can rebuild it, and build it better.”

Two firefighters were hurt while extinguishing the blaze. One fell on ice at the scene, the other suffered a leg injury. They were treated at Loyola.

Stickney firefighter Danny White, whose family owns neighboring Old Fashioned Candies, said he got a call about the fire on his own radio, to back up Berwyn firefighters.

“I hear the address that they said on my own radio, and I couldn’t believe it,”

The candy store sustained water and smoke damage from the fire – as did a bakery on the other side of the bike shop – but White said his family hopes to reopen the candy store soon.

“Valentine’s [Day] is coming up, so I’m definitely not losing hope on that,” he said. “I’ll stand outside and sell strawberries if I have to.”

The cause of the fire had not yet been determined as of 11 a.m.

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