Wrigleyville fire results in Clark Street building tear down

October 26, 2013 (CHICAGO)

PHOTOS: Clark Street Fire in Wrigleyville

Saturday night, there's still no word on a cause more than 24 hours after the massive fire broke out.

Saturday night in Wrigleyville, the weekend before Halloween, and the neighborhood is bustling. But those celebrating the holiday are without some popular neighborhood gathering spots.

At the site of the fire, caution tape and fencing are 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.

Three businesses are a total loss: Thai Classic, a Wrigleyville staple, as well as two popular nightspots, Roadhouse 66 and Samah Hookah Lounge.

"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 is also closed and residents in nine upstairs apartments must stay elsewhere until adjacent unstable walls are 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 has proven stubborn, forcing firefighters to return.

"We pour a lot of water on this fire. There's some hot spots that refuse to get put out," said CFD Chief Curt Annis.

ABC 7 Eyewitness News has learned 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.

Investigators Saturday night confirm the fire started in Samah Hookah Lounge, the cause unclear. Officials are awaiting the results of forensic testing.

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