Homes badly damaged in three-alarm fire on NW Side

CHICAGO — Flames burst from a three-alarm fire inside an apartment building in the 2900 block of N. Kedzie Ave. near the border of Avondale and Logan Square Thursday morning.

After the fire broke out around 10: 40 a.m., witnesses said wind swept the flames across two or three buildings, prompting firefighters to evacuate families in nearby buildings after arriving on scene. They also quickly called for more manpower.

"It was like a scene out of a movie. I thought they were filming a movie, an action movie," neighbor Pedro Muniz said. "The building was evacuated and all the windows were busted out."

Smoke billowed into the sky, ending residents into the street. CFD District Chief Dan Cunningham says the three-alarm fire took 38 companies and 120 firefighters more than two hours to put out.

"Companies did a great job here dropping hose lines and keeping it to the original area that was there when we arrived, and we did escalate it a few times because we knew we were going to need more manpower," Cunningham said.

Part of the reason more help was needed was firefighters were also battling soaring temperatures. There were no fatalities, but two firefighters suffered injuries.

"Due to the heat of the day, and the need to rehab our members and make sure that they're well hydrated," Cunningham said. "We did send two of our members to the hospital; one with exhaustion, the other with an eye injury."

Brian Reiter arrived to find his home badly damaged. He and his roommate were both gone when it started , but their beloved dog Jade was inside.

"The house to the South of us caught on fire and then moved on to our house," Reiter said.

"I came through the school yard, saw that our house was on fire — lost my mind, naturally — and ran to look for my dog," roommate Josh Koessel said.

Witnesses said the dog escaped the fire as soon as firefighters arrived on the scene.

"As soon as firefighters busted the door, the dog shot out," Muniz said.

When word finally came that their dog had been found, the two shared a hug and a sense of relief. Even if nine people now need to find somewhere to live.

"We still gotta figure out where we're staying, but human life is much more important than a bunch of wood," Reiter said.