Cicero apartment building destroyed by raging fire, dozens displaced

Saturday, December 2, 2023
Cicero apartment building destroyed by raging fire, dozens displaced
Cicero firefighters battled an extra-alarm fire in an apartment building on 16th Street Friday morning. Dozens of residents have been displaced.

CICERO, Ill. (WLS) -- Dozens of residents have been displaced after a fire ripped through an apartment building in west suburban Cicero Friday morning.

The fire broke out in the three-story apartment building overnight in the 5900-block of West 16th Street in Cicero.

"We had to call a mayday because we had to account for our guys right off the bat," Cicero Fire Chief Jeff Penzkofer said.

Inside the basement of the three-story apartment building, an inferno was so bad, firefighters couldn't see. It was obvious to them it had been burning for a while.

Residents barely realized what was happening.

"I heard people outside running I'm like, the building is on fire so I had to get my mother, who is 65 years old and I got my two nephews who stay with me, one asthmatic and my mother is asthmatic and it was just real terrifying," Trienette Lark said. "I didn't know if I was going to be able to get out. She's on a walker."

As Cicero's fire department, along with several from surrounding suburbs arrived, firefighters quickly realized the fire was raging out of control

After a mayday call and all of the fire personnel was pulled from inside and everyone was accounted for they began to tackle it from the outside and that quickly became challenging.

In the back was destruction. A support wall threatened to collapse at any moment.

Inside, initial reports say all 25 people living here are accounted for as well, but authorities are waiting for a final number.

"It was terrifying not knowing where to go how to turn where it was coming from if it's outside you know," Lark said. "We didn't know where it was the smoke was coming from everywhere."

Lark escaped with the clothes on her back and her mother's walker. Everything else has been lost.

"I thank God for my life right now. After I saw my house, I just thank God that he kept us, that we all made it out. That's the only thing that's keeping me sane," she said.

While no injuries were reported, the magnitude of the loss hits deep.

"I'm just really hurt. Confused. Lost. And need help," said Lark.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The Red Cross is assisting with finding shelter for those displaced, and a Cicero officials said families received some money to help cover the cost of stays in local hotels.