2 critically injured in Edgewater apartment building fire; residents speak out on safety concerns

2 injured in North Side apartment fire; residents voice concerns
2 critically injured in Edgewater apartment building fire; residents speak out on safety concerns
Saturday, December 30, 2023

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Residents are speaking out over safety concerns after a fire tore through an apartment building on the city's Far North Side Friday morning, and two people were critically injured.

Chicago fire officials said there was heavy fire and smoke reported on the sixth floor and some on the seventh of an eight-story building at 1020 W. Foster Ave. in Edgewater about 8:10 a.m.

Dozens of people ran to safety after being alerted by neighbors, but some of those residents were hurt, and others became trapped.

At least two people needed to be rescued, and ladders were being deployed to help some out of windows, CFD said.

I have never been more scared in my entire life
Flynn Makuch, building resident

The fire was out just before 8:55 a.m., CFD said. Over 150 firefighters responded to battle the blaze.

At one point, flames were visible coming from a window on the sixth floor of the building, and a woman was seen hanging out another window.

"Squad one, when they arrived, they had a woman hanging out of the window on the fourth floor that was about to jump," CFD Deputy Dist. Chief Kelly Burns said. "I mean, normally a floor below is not an immediate concern for us, but she was in a position of panic and ready to go."

Two people were taken to hospitals in critical condition, a CFD spokesman said later Friday. A 28-year-old woman was taken to Illinois Masonic and a 62-year-old man was taken to Swedish Hospital, Chicago police said.

A Chicago fire official gave an update after an Edgewater fire Friday morning.

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Residents of the building gathered Friday evening to voice concerns about the overall safety of the building, accusing the owners of not doing enough to keep them safe.

"I have never been more scared in my entire life," said building resident Flynn Makuch. "I was certain that I would die, and then I was certain that my cat was going to die."

Several residents told ABC7 fire alarms in their units did not go off. Only those in the hallway went off, and they could barely be heard.

"If there's a fire going on, and the alarm is going off in the hall, and it only alerts whoever happens to be walking down the hallway, it's not enough," building resident Maiko Lehman said.

The unit where the fire began on the sixth floor was a total loss, the CFD spokesman said. The person living there got out on their own.

"I only got out or knew that there was a fire because my neighbor, the person who was in the apartment that caught on fire, banged on my door," Makuch said.

The building has over 200 units the spokesman said. No one appeared to be displaced because there were some vacant units in the building, and management is moving affected residents into those.

"I'm just happy I was able to wake up earlier than I was supposed to and hear about this on the WhatsApp group because I didn't hear any alarms. I had to open my door to see there was smoke in the hallway and police men knocking at every door to tell us to get out," building resident Victor Mitchell said.

CFD said the older building does not have a sprinkler system, but does have a working fire alarm system.

Sabrina Stark said she also did not hear the alarms.

"I found out because the police came out, knocking on my door, couldn't hear any fire alarms going off or anything, was just awakened to the sound of people knocking on my door and the fire department telling - get out," Stark said.

The building's property manager, a company called Trigild, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. City records show in 2020, the building obtained a permit to make modifications to the fire alarm system, and, at the time, that system was city-approved.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.