Wind rips off part of HS roof; downed power lines spark Oak Lawn fire

OAK LAWN, Ill. (WLS) -- Powerful storms left a trail of destruction in Chicago and southwest suburban Oak Lawn.

A layer of the roof of a high school in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood was peeled off overnight. Chopper 7HD flew over Benito Juarez Community Academy near West Cermak Road and Ashland Avenue Tuesday morning.

Chicago Public Schools said the part of the building that was damaged was the roof of an elevated walkway connecting two school buildings. It was draped like a cloth off the side of an annex and onto the plaza. A heavy flag pole was also bent at its base.

Classes were in session Tuesday at the high school. CPS said classes held in the elevated walkway and in the annex were relocated Tuesday to the main school building, while workers assessed the damage and made repairs. The walkway will not be used until those repairs are complete.

No one was hurt, CPS said.

As of 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, ComEd reported about 3,200 remained without power in the company's west region, near the far west suburbs and Rockford, Ill. An Amaren map showed about 1,500 customers were still in the dark in LaSalle County.

Downed power lines shot sparks into the air, buildings were damaged and street signs were left lying in the road due to strong winds in Oak Lawn. Some lanes were blocked near West 88th Street and Ridgeland Avenue after wind knocked down a light pole. Some residents briefly lost power.

"I wake up at 1 a.m. and there was no power. The wind was blowing so heavy. Came back, then we lost it again," said Fahmi Rashid, who lives in Oak Lawn.

Around the same time, firefighters rushed to Grassano's Pizza in the 5600-block of West 87th Street.

Power lines came down, causing them to arc. ComEd crews were responding to a different call as they drove by.

"They were actually just driving by, yes. They saw the severity of the situation, the urgency. He changed his call to stay here and take care of this situation first," Oak Lawn Assistant Fire Chief Scott Boman said. "If you come across a power line that's down, especially if it's arcing, stay clear of the area until it can be confirmed to be cut (turned off)."

The spot where the power lines struck the sidewalk was visible in the daylight. They melted a deep gash in the pavement.

No one was hurt in Oak Lawn. There was little damage to the pizza shop.
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