Investigators are having trouble determining exactly how many people live in the building because so many are away for the weekend, but the number is probably close to 200. Fortunately, most of their units have not been damaged. Still, they don't know when they will be allowed back in.
Flames burned for hours as scores of firefighters battled to bring the flames under control. Most of the residents were able to get out on their own even before emergency responders arrived.
"My dad comes in and he's, like, 'Hey, it's a real fire, get out, get your vehicles out.' So then I was in panic mode. I started grabbing more stuff. Ran out. Heard the fire trucks pulling up," said George Perez, building resident.
"Easily got up, got everyone together and got out of the house," said Chris Kaski, building resident.
Chris and Fran Kaski are among those who evacuated. They got out with their two young children. Their unit is far from where fire happened, but the blaze engulfed an attic space used as storage for the building's residents.
"A wedding dress, the Christmas ornaments. They're meaningful, you know, there are things we got on this, dates and names and occasions. I know it's kind of cheesy to some people, but it's memories for me," said Fran Kaski.
There are 85 units in the building, which is part of the larger apartment complex called Carriage Way Court Condominiums. Most of the residents are temporarily displaced, unable to go in and retrieve personal items. Some say they saw a gas grill explode but it's still too early to tell.
"It's all rumors and conversation. Until the fire department gets in there taking a close look at it, nobody's going to know," said Deputy Chief Dave Scanlan, Rolling Meadows Police Department.
So far the Red Cross has transported some 50 people to the Holiday Inn next door until they can assess how many will need shelter. The management of the condominiums has set up a hotline, (312) 565-6110, and they're asking everybody to call in because apparently one of the units that was destroyed was the manager's office-- and all the records appear to be gone.