"It's gonna be a rough ride, man," said Bernard Stratton, who escaped the fire.
The fire broke out just after 3:30 a.m. in the 4900 block of S. Princeton Avenue in the Fuller Park neighborhood, according to fire officials.
"The frames, obviously, they go quicker. We've had no rain, everything's dry and once the exposure is going until we get water on it, it's kinda hard to control," said said CFD Deputy District Chief Thomas Carbonneau.
The Chicago Fire Department said four homes and three coach houses out back all caught fire. One structure fully collapsed and the others are reduced to facades.
"When I pull up on the scene we had four buildings going in front... four two and a half story frames, 3 coaches in the back, we had quite a bit of fire going when we got onto scene. Right away we started to drop lines and put masters to work, put ll companies to work," Carbonneau said.
Leslie Guijosa is among those residents displaced after the building she lived in with her siblings was destroyed.
She said she knocked on neighbors' doors to warn others.
"They're my siblings. I'm obviously gonna protect them," she said.
Stratton also escaped from another building.
"When I looked out, the whole back was orange -- just engulfed in flames," he said.
Several puppies were rescued from rear coach houses and were attended to on scene, CFD tweeted.
Update 2-11 on Princeton Four (4) puppies rescued from the rear couch houses and being attended to by on scene EMS 2-1-30 pic.twitter.com/YmhEknW2dQ— Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) September 30, 2021
Stratton said he and his friend are alive because one his friend's dogs woke them up. He said he made two trips back inside to rescue some of the dogs, but believes five did not survive.
"I wanted to go back inside, but the smoke was just too much," Stratton said.
As dozens of firefighters put out the flames, paramedics helped the surviving dogs breathe, as some of the people forced from their homes stood for hours in the cool morning air.
"It could have been a lot worse, a lot worse if people neighbors don't help each other. Obviously, the quick work of the fire department was getting water on the fire stopped it from going farther," Carbonneau said.
The fire department said everyone self-evacuated. In all, eight dogs were also displaced, according to CFD, with one puppy taken to the hospital.
Over 150 CFD personnel and over 45 pieces of equipment were brought in to help put out the fire.
Today’s 3-11 alarm fire brought over 150 CFD personnel and over 45 pieces of equipment. A total of Seven (7) homes were involved. Companies will be on the scene for an extended time conducting overhaul 2-1-30 pic.twitter.com/A2sjIeOLut— Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) September 30, 2021
The cause of the fire is being investigateded as suspicious.
3-11 update 4920 S. Princeton, 2 1/2 story frame, vacant, approximately 25 x 50.— Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) September 30, 2021
Fire on rear porches.
The fire extended to 4918, 4922 and 4924 S. Princeton. NO civilian injures one dog was transported for treatment at Chicago ACC. Fire being investigated as suspicious.
This is a developing story and will be updated when more information becomes available.