Forest Park fire destroys home but not hope for families displaced by blaze

FOREST PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Two Forest Park families who have lost nearly everything in a massive house fire earlier this week say they are not giving up hope.

Flames could be seen shooting out of the roof, sparking power lines as the western suburbs home went up in a blaze.

Rhonda and Michelle Weber are among those who lost almost everything from the fire.

"They let us go in last night and the only thing I took was a portrait of my grandmother," Rhonda said.

Flames erupted just before 5:45 Thursday afternoon at the two flat home located in the 1100 Block of Elgin Avenue.

"I was in the front of the house and heard a knocking and yelling to get out of the house. I went out and looked back and there was just smoke everywhere in the back off the house," Michelle said.

Rhonda, who works in pediatric medicine, got the terrible news from her boss after she got a frantic call from Michelle.

"She was saying, 'This is Michelle, I'm Rhonda Weber's wife. Our house is burning down,'" Rhonda said.

The fire raged for nearly three hours as it destroyed pretty much everything inside.

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A family of three was displaced by a huge fire at their Forest Park home Thursday afternoon.

Fire officials say the blaze began in the back of the house, somewhere near the attic area, then quickly spread through the structure.

Luckily, the upstairs tenants, who are a school teacher, her partner and their 12-year-old son, escaped unharmed.

Michelle was also able to escape, along with the family's pets.

The couples is now staying with one of their six children.

Although there was no loss of life, many irreplaceable keepsakes are feared to be gone forever.

"Some of our boxes in the basement had our kids' pictures from when they were babies," Michelle said.

The couple, who are originally from Wisconsin, had purchased and moved into the home just three months ago. They were in the process of completing renovations after they say the property passed two home inspections.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but an outpouring of help from the community is giving them hope. Many have dropped off gift cards, clothing and even started a GoFundMe page for families.

The Webers say they are counting their blessings knowing it could have been much worse.

"Its four walls. Nothing there that can't be replaced. Everyone's fine," Rhonda said.
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