The blaze, which started about 5 p.m. Friday, originated inside the Samah Hookah Lounge at 3330 N. Clark St., bringing the one-story structure to the ground, fire officials said. No injuries were reported, but a woman and her dog had to be rescued from a neighboring building.
Further engineering analysis would be needed to determine the exact cause of the fire, though no foul play is suspected, Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said Tuesday.
Whether or not the further analysis takes place is unclear, because it would have to be funded by the buildings' insurance carrier, Langford said.
In addition to the hookah lounge, two other businesses in the building, the Roadhouse 66 bar and Thai Classic restaurant, were destroyed.
At the site of the fire, caution tape and fencing were up and badly-damaged walls have come down.
"Now to see that it's just all in ruins and in shambles, it's just very tragic. It's very sad," said Lakeview resident Diane Gibbs.
"It's still unreal, like is this really happening now?" said Ashley Schopp.
Crews spent Saturday evening demolishing part of the shaky structure 24 hours after it went up in flames. The smoke could be seen for blocks.
"This is obviously going to take a year or two to get back in action, but I have every confidence this is going to be rebuilt and better than ever," said 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney.
"I think you just got to be thankful no one got hurt and just take it day by day, try to rebuild and see what's going to happen. That's pretty much it," said Eddie Ivanovic, Samah Hookah Lounge.
A fourth business, the Jimmy John's next door, was also closed, and residents in nine upstairs apartments must stay elsewhere until adjacent unstable walls were taken down.
"I told everybody, 'Anybody who doesn't have a place to stay, I've got a handful of vacancies,'" said property manager Lisa Kimmey. "I'll put them up until we can figure out what's going on with their units."
The fire proved stubborn, forcing firefighters to return.
"We poured a lot of water on this fire. There's some hot spots that refuse to get put out," said CFD Chief Curt Annis.
The building was cited for code violations three times in the past five years, but none was considered serious.
"We had a health department issue on one of them, but not life safety," Tunney said.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.