Palatine fire that displaced dozens likely caused by cigarette, officials say

50 to 60 displaced by Palatine condo fire

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Palatine fire that displaced dozens likely caused by cigarette
A Palatine fire that displaced dozens was likely caused by a cigarette.

PALATINE, Ill. (WLS) -- Fire investigators said the fire that tore through a condo complex in Palatine was accidental, and might have been started by a cigarette on a balcony.

ABC7 Chicago news partner the Daily Herald reports investigators used a drone to inspect parts of the charred building because of structural safety concerns.

The fire heavily damaged 22 condo units last week, leaving those residents homeless.

Dozens of people were displaced after the fire ripped through the northwest suburban apartment complex, causing part of the roof to collapse earlier this month.

The Red Cross said 50 to 60 people were displaced, but luckily, no one was injured in the fire that started just after 5 p.m. March 19.

"It's awful," witness Sarah Martinez said. "It's going to affect many families in the area and we are very sad for them."

SEE MORE: Palatine apartment buildings catch fire, roof partially collapses; dozens displaced

Billowing black smoke flooded the skies as nearby residents watched the wreckage.

The exterior of the building was left in shambles.

Palatine Fire Department Deputy Chief Anthony Lavacchi said flames spread from building 12A to 12B Dundee Quarter, which are attached three-story buildings with a fire separation between them.

You could see right into people's units as their bedrooms burned, all of their belongings gone.

"It's devastating. You can see in that one," Bustamante said. "You can literally see the actual closet, the rooms inside. It hurts."

There are several nearby buildings in the apartment complex. Neighbors said this hasn't been the first fire here.

"This is the third building that burned down in this area," said Eric Lopez, who lives nearby. "They seem not to be able to get it under control. There's another building on the other side that's burnt up."

A donation drive was collecting items to help families that were displaced by the fire.