CHICAGO (CBS) — Five families were left homeless Tuesday morning, after an extra-alarm fire heavily damaged three apartment buildings in Albany Park.
The fire started around 2 a.m. in a vacant building in the 4900 block of North Monticello Avenue, and quickly engulfed the building as flames poured out of the top and sides. Flames spread to two neighboring apartment buildings.
“Those folks self-evacuated. No injuries. There was no injuries to any civilians, there was no injuries to any firefighters,” Chicago Fire Department District Chief Don Hroma said.
At least 100 firefighters were brought in to help extinguish the blaze. Flames caused heavy damage to all three buildings, including collapses on both sides and on the back porch of the building where the fire started. The roof of the first building also was completely destroyed.
“I noticed huge orange flames coming over building next to us, and I could see that the roof next to us had caught. We got outside, and within ten minutes the whole building was engulfed, and up in flames; and within a half hour it had started to crumble,” neighbor Mary Ellen Hendricks said.
The building where the fire started was being renovated at the time, but investigators have not determined if the fire was connected to any construction work.
The American Red Cross provided assistance to at least 16 people whose apartments were left uninhabitable.
A few people were able to salvage some belongings from their apartments, but the buildings were mostly destroyed by the blaze.
A fourth building, Hendricks’ home, had smoke and water damage from the fire.