2 firefighters hurt after extra-alarm fire at West Side strip mall

CHICAGO -- A stubborn blaze at a strip mall in Chicago’s East Garfield Park neighborhood sent smoke billowing into the air for miles as an army of firefighters took it on Monday night.

Around 7:15 p.m., the first firefighters arrived to the scene at 425 S. Kedize Ave. and launched an interior attack, but fearing the buildings would collapse they had to fall back and call for help.

“They pulled a solo box alarm and then approximately 30 minutes later we had to pull a 2-11 alarm and eventually a 3-11 alarm, which involves 150 personnel,” said CFD District Chief Michael Carbone.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, Carbone said, as they also responded to a a Level 1 hazmat situation because of the types of buildings that were on fire. One firefighter suffered heat exhaustion, another suffered minor burns.

The strip mall includes a Family Dollar, J & J Fish, and Urban Beautique beauty shop.

Faisal Akkawi manages the strip mall property; the businesses all lease from him. He says he rushed to the scene after the owner of the beauty salon called him.

“He said some of the employees of the Family Dollar were running out of the store telling him that there was a fire. I just came down just to see this,” Akkawi said.

Kim Gipson lives across the street from the strip mall. She visited the beauty shop two days ago.

“The dogs were in the house barking and I looked out and I saw the smoke coming up so I had to come around and just have a look. Take it all in,” Gipson said. “It’s a big loss to the neighborhood. All of the different stores and businesses that were in there.”

Firefighters are not sure what fueled this massive fire and the cause is under investigation.