Hickory Hills fire: 1 dead, 1 injured after fire breaks out at apartment building, officials say

ByStephanie Wade, Tre Ward, and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, January 3, 2024
1 dead, 1 injured after south suburban apartment fire: officials
One person is dead and another is injured after a fire in Hickory Hills, IL at 80th Court and 87th Street, officials said.

HICKORY HILLS, Ill. (WLS) -- One is dead and another is seriously injured after a fire broke out in south suburban Hickory Hills on Tuesday morning, the Robert Parks Fire Protection District said.

The flames broke out around 1:30 a.m. in a nine-unit building on 80th Court and 87th Street, according to Roberts Park Fire Protection District Fire Chief Jeff Ketchen.

Firefighters found two people, identified only as male, inside a first-floor unit's kitchen area.

One of the victims did not survive. The other victim was taken to Advocate Christ Hospital in serious condition.

"The area of origin was a bedroom. The fire was contained to the bedroom. The occupants were found in the kitchen. It's possible that they were trying to make their way out," Ketchen said.

Smoke quickly spread, sending residents running for safety.

"My niece and nephew were running around the crib with the alarms going off," said displaced resident Areana Richmond.

When Richmond opened her eyes on Tuesday morning, she saw darkness.

"My room, personally, was filled with smoke, so I didn't see nothing. I just was running around the house, trying to gather my stuff," Richmond said. "I tried getting out the back door, but it was, like, already flames up there."

After rushing her family to safety outside from their third floor apartment, Richmond would later return to find her 1-year-old cat, Spooky, still clinging to life and possibly suffering from smoke inhalation.

One of her neighbors, just two floors under her, wasn't as lucky.

"I just pray for them. That's all I can do," Richmond said.

Roberta Roman's daughter and her boyfriend live directly next to the first-floor unit where the fire began.

They're out of town on a trip right now, but her dog was still inside. Thankfully, the dog was found safe in a very smoky apartment, Roman said.

"I'm relieved and like I said, I'm going to go in right now because I don't know what the smell is like in there or if there's fire damage," Roman said. "There might not be anything who knows. It's an older building. They're usually built a lot better than today's buildings. So I'm going to pray for that. And hopefully they can come home and spend the night at their home. That's what I'm hoping."

At least three separate families are now displaced.

"I take all my precautions to get safe," said Carlos Valdovinos, a displaced resident.

The man who died has yet to be identified, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

"I don't know if there were smoke detectors were working, but I encourage everyone to make sure theirs are," Ketchen said.