There were no injuries, but residents were forced out in the cold.
The fire broke out late Saturday afternoon in a five-story apartment building at 2030 West 111th Street.
It appeared to start on the first or second floor. The flames traveled through the walls and spread throughout the building.
"The walls were popping," said fire victim Brigette Douglas. "I heard the walls in the hallway popping. And I just went out into the hallway and touched the wall. And that's when I took off running because then I knew it was a fire."
There was so much smoke pouring out of the five-story condo building that resident Denise Allen saw it from her car on I-57.
"I'm saying, 'Ooh that looks awfully close. I wonder is it my building?' When I got here, sure enough," she said. "I was devastated."
It was a difficult battle for firefighters from the start.
The fifth floor had collapsed onto the fourth floor, which then collapsed onto the third."
At one point, a mayday call went out when some firefighters got in trouble.
"When the smoke got thick, a couple firefighters got turned around," said CFD Deputy Commissioner John McNicholas. "They called for a mayday. We were able to get the guys out."
The building was home to more than 30 units and many of the owners are seniors.
Saturday night, several residents are staying warm at the public library next door.
"It's a major disaster," said fire victim Michael Oliver. "It hurts, but it's going to be okay. It ain't no storm. It's just a fire."
"What you're looking at really is a shell of a building," McNicholas said. "It's too dangerous for the firefighters to enter. We're going to continue to use the master streams until we get a good hold on the fire."