Firefighters were working to extinguish a three-alarm blaze Wednesday morning that started in a house being renovated in Oak Park.
The fire started about 4:30 a.m. in the 500 block of North Humphrey Avenue, according to Oak Park Fire Chief Thomas Ebsen. The home was unoccupied at the time. No injuries had been reported as of 8:15 a.m.
A three-story brick apartment building next door was evacuated, and at least two of the building’s 15 units sustained significant damage, Ebsen said. “Most of them are affected in some way — it’s all a matter of degree,” he said.
The building is structurally sound, but residents will be displaced for at least one night. The American Red Cross provided assistance to four families who are residents of the apartment building, a total of four adults and five children, spokeswoman Martha Dittmar said. The blaze was under control by about 6:25 a.m., Ebsen said.
Oak Park residents Tom Sheehan and Stacey Previn had been rehabbing the house since April and were about to move in with their two high-school-age sons. They said they had been working last night, sanding floors and hoped to move into the home later this week; they had been staying in the coach house.
For the first time, they could turn on all the lights in the house. Instead, this morning, they watched as crews from Oak Park and River Forest fought the fire at their house, built in 1902.
Nicholas Bennett, 28, and his wife, Emily, heard the sound of breaking glass a little after 4 a.m. this morning. They live in one of the first-floor apartments next door. Thinking someone was breaking into the home, they called police but soon realized the house was engulfed.
They don’t think there was any damage to their unit, but worry about their friends who live on the third floor. Sheehan and Previn also worried about all the neighbors next door, hoping they had renter’s insurance.
“We just feel so bad for everyone,” Previn said as she sat across the street, staring at the gutted house.
Contributing: Sun-Times Media