Family displaced by house fire in Greater Grand Crossing: 'We have nothing'

2 firefighters hospitalized as precaution, CFD says

ByMichelle Gallardo and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Sunday, January 14, 2024
Family displaced by house fire on South Side: 'We have nothing'
A Greater Grand Crossing, Chicago fire broke out near East 71st Street and South University Avenue on Sunday, leaving a family displaced.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A South Side family was displaced on Sunday, but is counting their blessings.

With no working smoke detectors, they were fast asleep when first responders broke through their door.

More than three hours after it began, firefighters still struggled to put out a Greater Grand Crossing house fire near 71st and University. Looking back at the devastation, homeowner Edgar Keys walked away, shaking his head in disbelief.

"If it weren't for the firefighters, me, my momma, my daughter we'd be dead, if it wasn't for them busting through the door," Keys said. "We didn't smell smoke, we didn't see no fire. There was no smoke detectors or nothing going off."

The 9-1-1 call, Keys said, came from his neighbor across the street. When firefighters arrived, they evacuated the family and went to work.

But weather-related challenges made putting it out more difficult than usual. Additionally, two firefighters were taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, though it is not yet clear why.

"We had water problems. Crews got in the attic. They had to pull back because the fire was pretty stubborn," said Chicago Fire Department Deputy District Chief Anthony Frazier. "The weather definitely played a huge part in our fire operations. We run into frozen hydrants. We got the snow. People are trying to stay warm."

A warming bus brought in for Keys family helped in that respect, allowing firefighters to take short breaks on board before going back to work. Some did jumping jacks to keep the blood circulating.

As for the cause of the fire, that is still under investigation. Keys, who has lived there since 1993 said it is the second time they had a fire break out in the attic. This one, however, is infinitely more devastating.

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"We have nothing. On the coldest day of the year, we have nothing," Keys said. "Everything, the memories, the pictures, everything is gone."

The two injured firefighters were taken in stable condition to University of Chicago Hospital to be evaluated. They are expected to be OK.

With other fires reported around the city on Sunday, the deputy district chief is reminding the public to make sure their smoke detectors are in working order and to not block fire hydrants.

Fire crews also spent hours putting out a fire at an auto shop near 103rd and Avenue O on the Far South Side.

The Chicago Fire Department spent hours putting out a fire at an auto shop near 103rd and Avenue O.

There was a large response, but CFD said no one was hurt.