Residents displaced after Pilsen fire that caused house to collapse, spread to several homes

Friday, April 19, 2024
Neighbor says she lost everything in Pilsen house fire
The Chicago Fire Department is working to determine the cause of a Pilsen house fire that spread to multiple homes and collapsed a house Wednesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A massive fire in Pilsen that spread to several homes remains under investigation Thursday.

No one was injured in the massive fire, but the cause is still under investigation.

The fire broke out at a home in the city's Pilsen neighborhood at around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday in the 1300 block of West 16th Street.

Fire officials said the fire originated in a home that was under renovation before the flames spread quickly from one building to two others within minutes, causing some damage.

One day you're fine, and then the next day you just lose everything
Vannessa Garcia, displaced resident

What was once a home being rehabilitated is now a crater-sized pit of burned debris.

The home's owner said a contractor was in the process of fireproofing the property at the time of the fire.

"It is what it is, there's nothing I can do about it," building owner Hafeez Shaka said. "I was really looking forward to making it a home."

Firefighters were able to get neighbors out of nearby homes safely before putting the fire out around 9:45 p.m. No one was injured.

CFD said nearly 100 firefighters and 30 pieces of equipment worked to fight that fire.

The fire left multiple people displaced.

Vannessa Garcia stood in front of her apartment Thursday evening, showing ABC7 the damage to her home that she can no longer return to.

"You could hear someone knocking, telling us to get out of the apartment," Garcia said. "Our building kind of collapsed in a little."

Garcia raced outside with her 4-year-old cat, Shadow, and she was barely able to see through the thick smoke.

You couldn't even see it," Garcia said. It was covered, like, the smoke was just spreading so fast. It was really windy."

From several vantage points in Pilsen, cameras captured the sight of the large flames.

A photo showed what the home looked like before the fire, and work was being done to it hours before the fire broke out.

"The city inspector said you have to fireproof that side, so we did that," said Michael Kevorkian, Shaka's home contractor. "We were going to be done with it... then now this happened."

Water now covers the floors in Garcia's basement unit. Her furniture and belongings were all soaked and damaged by smoke.

"Just feeling a little helpless, lost, confused," Garcia said. "You know, one day you're fine, and then the next day you just lose everything."

Garcia and her neighbors are now raising funds to help with housing.