Man found dead after fire breaks out at vacant Chicago Lawn apartment building, police say

ByMaher Kawash and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Sunday, February 5, 2023
Man found dead after fire breaks out at SW Side home: police
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A man was found dead after a fire broke out in the 6400 block of South Whipple Street, the Chicago Police Department said.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An apartment building on Chicago's Southwest Side completely gutted from an overnight fire near 64th and Whipple.

Investigators said the fire likely started on one of the lower levels and, quickly spread throughout the building.

When fire crews arrived just after 3:30 a.m. Sunday, a 36-year-old man was found dead inside.

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Neighbors woke up to some of that initial chaos.

"It was the police sirens," one resident said. "I saw police everywhere around here, and I'm like 'hey, what's going on?' But, I couldn't see because it was so dark."

Alderman Raymond Lopez, who represents the 15th Ward, confirmed the building is abandoned, and he said there may have been some homeless people inside who also may have started a fire to stay warm. People living around there said that's been going on for quite some time.

"It's been going on since I've moved around here, actually, about a year and a half," one resident said.

Lopez said he just requested an updated list of these vacant buildings, where it's become common during the winter for squatters to get in.

"So that if they are not registered, and we have no other pending legal action being taken, that we immediately secure them to prevent any further loss of life or incidents like this again," Lopez said.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but ABC7 was told smoke detectors were not working inside. That's why Chicago firefighters made their way to the surrounding homes earlier Sunday, making sure everyone has working smoke detectors.

"We're trying to let people know that working smoke detectors save lives," the fire chief said.

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Neighbors are just thankful to wake up with their homes still intact.

"It's a blessing, because I thought it was my building, and I'm glad it wasn't me, so it's a blessing," one resident said.