North Side fire interrupts CTA train service temporarily

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May 30, 2012 3:10:04 AM PDT
Trains on the Brown and Red lines are moving again after an extra-alarm fire at a Lincoln Park furniture store near the CTA's elevated tracks interrupted service on the North Side.

The Red Line returned to normal service Tuesday evening while southbound trains on the Brown Line were bypassing the Diversey and Wellington station. Service on the Purple Line Express was suspended for the rest of the night, CTA said.

The blaze broke out just before the Tuesday afternoon rush hour at Roy's Furniture store in the 2400-block of North Sheffield on the city's North Side.

Several customers and about 20 workers were inside when the fire erupted. They were all evacuated safely.

"The delivery guys were, like, 'oh, my God, there's a little fire. Let's go get water.' It was literally very small. We ran to the bathroom, got water. By the time I went there, half of the store was on fire. It was literally a matter of about 30 seconds," said Johanna Parra, marketing director, Roy's Furniture.

Parra's car, which was in the store's parking lot, caught on fire.

Firefighters were preparing to tear down part of the building in order to strike the fire late Tuesday night.

The brick building's newer second story construction made fighting the fire challenging.

"We can't get at the fire ... we can't get in there," said Michael Callahan, deputy fire commissioner, Chicago Fire Department.

Walter Eschenbach lives across the street from the store and shot video of the fire with his phone.

"It is amazing how hot it was," he said. "We were probably 100 to 150 feet away from it."

No injuries were reported, but the CTA's Red, Purple, and Brown line trains run on tracks near the area. Heavy smoke and fire department activity led the CTA to suspend train service on the Red Line between the Belmont and North and Clybourn stations; and on the Brown Line between Belmont and Sedgwick. All service on Purple Line Express was suspended.

The CTA used buses to move passengers between stations.

The suspensions left many commuters stranded.

"Initially, I was trying to go somewhere, but then I heard about the fire. Now, I am standing here waiting for a bus," said commuter Amy Berner.

A fire department spokesperson said the cause of the fire was the careless use of smoking materials.

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