A three-story apartment building about a half-mile away from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus caught on fire around 7 p.m. Dec. 9 forcing residents to evacuate.
Firefighters rescued multiple people from the building, but the three people they helped refused medical treatment, according to the Chicago Fire Department (CFD). By 10 p.m., residents were waiting in warming buses, unsure about when they’d be allowed back into the building — 16 displaced residents were transported to a hotel at 4 a.m.
“It’s a crowded bus, I think it was four hours I was in that bus and I was like, I don’t live like this,” said resident Victor Morales.
The first and second floors of the building were heavily damaged due to the fire, Morales said. The fire started on the first floor but it’s unclear what caused it, according to CFD.
Neighbor Ellen Puglisi said she realized something was wrong when she smelled smoke and noticed her windows cracking from the heat around 7 p.m. Puglisi lives in the neighboring building directly next to the unit that first caught fire.
“I heard someone yell ‘fire’ and I looked outside and saw it,” said Puglisi, while sitting across the street with two carriers filled with her three cats. “I could feel the heat and see the windows cracking, so I grabbed [my cats] and left.”
Puglisi and her husband were able to return to their neighboring apartment by 9 p.m.
Data from the City of Chicago shows the building at 6540 N. Glenwood Ave. failed its Sept. 2021 inspection and received citations for missing fire alarms, an improper chimney, and other code violations.
Morales was walking home to his third floor unit where he’s lived for three years around 7 p.m. when he saw smoke and flames billowing from his building. Though Morales said he was grateful he and his husband were safe, he was immediately concerned about their two cats, Zoey and Frenchie.
Morales and the other residents were allowed back into their buildings with police escort to retrieve pets and essentials around 10 p.m., but Morales said Zoey was nowhere to be found. His neighbors told him they saw both his cats run out of the building into the alley.
“I lost my cat Zoey, I’m crying over it,” Morales said. “I managed to grab Frenchie while they were boarding up the place. The only reason I was able to catch Frenchie was because he knows the apartment, the apartment number, how to come up and come down, but I’m so worried about Zoey because she’s not an alley cat.”
Morales said the power was still cut when he returned to the building and he wasn’t able to get many of his things since he was focused on locating his cats. The police wouldn’t allow him to check the other floors of the building for Zoey due to the damage.
Another resident, Stephen Taylor, said he was walking back from the grocery store when a fire truck passed him on the way to respond to a fire at his building.
“I was like, ‘No way they’re going to my building,’ but yes, they were,” said Taylor, who works as a paralegal.
When Taylor arrived outside his garden-level unit, he saw smoke coming from the second floor window on the south side of the building and firefighters wouldn’t allow him inside. He watched the firefighters rescue a few of his neighbors from the building with ladders and fight the fire using hoses.
Taylor said he was aware of multiple building violations that his landlord failed to fix and criticized him for leaving the residents without an explanation or assistance following the fire.
“Is he just gonna leave all his tenants out in the streets to fend for [themselves]?” Taylor asked.
D&S Enterprises — which owns the building — didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.