CHICAGO (CBS) — A Logan Square furniture store must be torn down, after an extra-alarm blaze gutted the building Thursday morning, and left it in danger of “imminent collapse,” city officials said.
The fire started around 7:30 a.m. at Famsa Furniture at 2945 N. Milwaukee Av., and burned for more than three hours before it was extinguished.
Chicago Buildings Department Commissioner Judy Frydland said the building was a “total loss” and in “imminent danger of collapse” due to the blaze.
Frydland said a building inspector determined the interior of the building had been completely gutted by flames.
“The only thing holding it up right now are the two buildings on either side of it. So it needs to come down as quickly as possible,” she said.
The city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation will begin tearing down the building’s façade later on Thursday, and Milwaukee Avenue will remain closed to traffic between Diversey and Belmont at least for the rest of the day, according to Frydland.
After that, either the city or the building’s owners will hire a demolition team to tear down the rest of the building.
“I believe the owners want to wreck it, but I don’t think they can get it together quickly enough. It needs to come down as soon as possible,” Frydland said.
Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner Timothy Sampey said the original came in to the Police Department, because the fire set off motion detectors inside the store, which was closed at the time. When officers arrived, they smelled smoke and called in the Fire Department.
The building was locked, so firefighters broke in, and discovered heavy smoke throughout the first floor, Sampey said. Crews using infrared cameras detected high heat in the ceiling, so firefighters were ordered out of the building to battle the flames from a defensive position.
Sampey said the blaze was a “stubborn fire” due to the large amount of furniture inside, and limited access to the second floor.
The Fire Department initiated a 3-11 alarm, bringing about 150 firefighters, 12 engines, 4 trucks, and 2 tower ladders, 6 battalion chiefs, two deputy district chiefs, a district chief, a deputy fire commissioner, a command van, an air mask truck, and an ambulance to the scene. The 3-11 alarm was struck out around 10:40 a.m.
No one was inside the building when the fire started, as the store was not scheduled to open until 10 a.m. Sampey said no firefighters were hurt, although two civilians complained about smoke inhalation, and were checked out by paramedics at the scene. They were not taken to hospitals.
The two neighboring buildings were not damaged by the fire, although Sampey said some drywall in those two buildings was damaged when firefighters were checking to make sure flames had not spread to them.
Sampey said the cause of the fire was under investigation.