West Woodlawn apartment complex fire leaves many displaced; kitten rescued, Chicago fire says

Wednesday, September 2, 2020
West Woodlawn apartment complex fire leaves many displaced; kitten rescued, Chicago fire says
The Chicago Fire Department responded to an extra-alarm fire in the West Woodlawn neighborhood Wednesday morning.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Fire Department rescued a cat from an extra-alarm fire at an apartment complex in the West Woodlawn neighborhood Wednesday morning that left many residents displaced.

The fire broke out in a three-story, 30-unit residential building in the 6100-block of South Eberhart Avenue at about 4:48 a.m., the fire department said.

Chopper 7HD flew above the scene as firefighters sprayed water onto the roof of the building.

Residents hung out of windows yelling for help as the fire department appeared to rescue some of them by ladder.

"I looked out my window, and I saw flames shooting up into the sky and so I ran back and grabbed my things and exited the building," said resident Evon Izquierdo.

Izquierdo recorded video from her cellphone of the flames across from her studio apartment as many of her neighbors tried to alert residents to the flames.

"I just went from the third floor, to the second floor, the third floor, the first floor screaming and hollering and hitting, kicking the walls, beating on the walls like 'Fire! Fire! Everybody please get out!'" resident Regina Agboola said.

Agboola got out of the building with her husband and the clothes on her back.

"We lost everything. Everything. I am OK with that, as long as I was able to get these kids out because there are a whole lot of kids that live in this building," she said.

Nate Ramsey lives above the unit where the blaze originated, on the south side of the complex, according to fire officials.

"The flames were just too much, so I left and tried to help people get out of the building," Ramsey said. "All this can be replaced, but you can't replace a life."

Fire officials said working fire detectors in the building and helpful neighbors saved lives.

At about 6:15 a.m., the fire department said the fire was struck.

"As far as injuries or fatalities, right now no fatalities -- reported injuries are minimal if any due to the fact that they did have working smoke detectors; those smoke detectors did alert the residents," Deputy Fire Commissioner Timothy Sampey said.

The fire department tweeted out a picture of a cat that made it out safely.

Meanwhile some neighbors brought food and water and chairs for those displaced and offered them encouragement.

"A number of us live about a block from here, so we just came over to figure out what we could do in the short term, thankfully no one was injured as far as we know, so that's good news," said Joel Hamernick, with Sunshine Gospel Ministries.

One side of the building doesn't have as much damage as the other. Twenty-two adults and nine children have been displaced by the fire, and the Red Cross is trying to help those who need it.

Normally, they said, they would set up a shelter In a nearby gym with cots for residents to sleep, but with restrictions on groups because of COVID-19, that's not an option, so they are putting them up in hotels.

"People are coming out in their nightclothes, so they didn't have much," Red Cross spokesman Hank Welch said.

It was not immediately clear later Wednesday how the fire began.