ELMHURST, Ill. - A bridal shop and the 85-year-old historic building it was housed in were destroyed in a fire Thursday in west suburban Elmhurst.
VIP Occasions, in the 300-block of North York Street, caught fire around 1:40 p.m., officials said. The blaze raged for hours, flaring up again every time firefighters seemed to have it under control. Firefighters were still at the scene working to contain and extinguish the flames at 10 p.m.
The material the building, first constructed in 1932, was made of spread the flames faster than firefighters could get water on it, officials said. Firefighters actually spotted the smoke inside before they got the call.
"It was seeded pretty deep in there, got a good head start," said Deputy Chief Bill Anaszewicz, Elmhurst Fire Department.
"The smoke was coming out from the front doors, windows instead of the roof now, just billowing out," said Jayson Anderson, resident.
The Elmhurst History Museum said the building that houses the shop was built in 1932 and was a grocery. Over time, they said, it became a special occasion dress shop once known as Clancy's and most recently known as VIP Occasions.
VIP Occasions has been owned by two sisters since 1991. It is well known and well-loved in Elmhurst.
"I'm glad to see them finally shooting water on the house next door and getting right in the area that flames are coming. It's sad. It's a little small business, small business owner. A lot of brides their dresses are wrecked, you know. It's small town, it makes me sad," said Los.
Firefighters doused Jaqueline Moreno's house with water repeatedly to keep flames from spreading.
"I was stuck on North Avenue. I was having people call me, I didn't even look at the news yet, just saw helicopters flying and I just wanted to know where my kids were at," Moreno said.
While her house did not catch fire, she's unsure if there's any damage from smoke or water.
"I'll find out once I get in. I have to get some clothes for my kids so they can attend school tomorrow," she said. She and her family will be staying at a hotel for at least a night before they can get back into the home.
The owners posted a statement to the business's Facebook page shortly after 6 p.m.
Two bridal shop owners have already come forward to offer assistance to brides who may have lost their dresses in Thursday's fire.
Complete Bridal in East Dundee said anyone who lost a dress in the fire can get a dress for free, excluding alterations, if they provide a receipt from VIP Occasions. Volle's Bridal Boutique in Lake Zurich said anyone who lost a dress in the fire can go to their website and fill out an appointment for help.
Kerry Dean of Volle's Bridal Boutique said his shop was destroyed in a fire in 1995 and other shops stepped in to help his customers; he just wants to return the favor. Complete Bridal has also offered assistance in the past; when Eve's Bridal Shop burned down in 2010, Complete Bridal provided 40 women with their dresses.