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

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Monday, March 20, 2023
Fire rips through Palatine apartment buildings, displacing dozens
The Red Cross said 50 to 60 people were displaced in a Palatine apartment building fire Sunday evening. Luckily, no one was injured.

PALATINE, Ill. (WLS) -- Dozens of people are displaced after a fire ripped through a northwest suburban apartment complex, causing part of the roof to collapse Sunday evening.

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.

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

"I looked out the window and I just saw the building smoking, smoking," said Neftali Bustamante, who lives nearby.

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

"We've got a three-story building, 24 units with major fire on the third floor. The roof has collapsed," said Hank Welch, a Red Cross volunteer Illinois disaster response manager.

"It's just spreading and we watched the building on the side here collapse about 45 minutes ago and it's just horrible," Martinez said. "Praying for all the families involved."

The exterior of the building was left in shambles. Palatine Fire Dept. 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."

The Red Cross was on the scene to helping those who were displaced. They plan to provide meals for residents on Monday.

"We are looking to see if we can find a location for shelter for tonight, so they're not sleeping in their cars," Welch said. "Some people might have family away that they can go to, which is great."

The fire is now out, but salvage and overhaul operations are still ongoing at this time.

It's unclear what caused the fire.