Man missing after Washington Park fire, officials say

CHICAGO -- A man is missing following a massive fire in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood.

Fire officials don’t know if the man made it out safely or if he never made it out of the building.

The search was suspended late Saturday morning, for a man in his 40s who was reported missing following a massive fire that took over two apartment buildings in the 5800 block of Prairie.

Firefighters believe the fire started in a red brick four-story building, which was vacant.

The landlord of the adjacent yellow brick building lives on the top floor and tells me, she made it out safely thanks to two police officers who noticed the fire while driving by, and started knocking on doors to get everyone out.

The tenants right below her—a woman, her son, and his girlfriend also made it out safety, but a man in his 40s who was visiting that family, is still unaccounted for.

When firefighters got to the scene, they searched the building, but were forced out by the flames.

“Our initial search we didn’t find anybody. There were unconfirmed reports of somebody inside,” Deputy District Chief Jeffrey Horan, Chicago Fire Department, said.

After firefighter got the flames and smoke under control, they spent most of the morning looking for the man, but no sign of the missing man.

Dangerous building conditions, caused firefighters to have to call off the search late Saturday morning.

They plan to return early next week with heavy equipment to resume the search and pick through the fire’s rubble.

It was a tough day to battle the tough fire. The extreme heat, made it difficult.

Cooling stations to monitor firefighter’s heart rates were also set-up.

“We don’t like to work our firefighters for more than 10 minutes at a time,” Horan said.

The landlord of a yellow building, said the neighboring building also caught fire just a few weeks ago, on August 31 in the wee hours of the morning, but the damage was not as severe.

Fire investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire.