Fire engulfs 3 buildings in West Loop

May 31, 2009 (CHICAGO) The fire, which had been upgraded to three-alarm status, was struck shortly before 5 pm. A large contingent of firefighters had been battling the blaze for approximately and one hour and 30 minutes. Authorities say the fire was stubborn because of the high winds that had been blowing the flames around.

Residents were able to evacuate the building on their own.

The blaze apparently spread from building to building. Witnesses tell ABC7 Chicago that it started in the southern-most building at 720 South Aberdeen and then spread to 718 and 716. All of those buildings contain multiple private residences.

Most of the residents are U.I.C. students.

"It was so scary. All you heard was noises. It felt like it was the Fourth of July all over again. It was scary. We ran outside, and everybody was here," witness Elizabeth Grisanzio said.

Grisanzio also told ABC7 she believed everyone was able to get out of the buildings.

"I saw one person climb out the window, and that was it," said witness Ashley Berkland.

One man returned home to find his building on fire and his thoughts immediately focused on his dog.

"We're on the top floor on the front and it started in the back. I saw the roof collapse in the middle so I didn't know if Parker was in the middle. I didn't know if the roof got him on the way down, so not being here it was worse case scenario," building resident Scott Copeland said.

Parker the dog is doing fine.

No injuries were reported, aside from a firefighter who had minor heat-related injury for which the firefighter received medical attention.

Investigators say an electrical malfunction might have sparked the fire.

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