Had fire sprinklers been installed, the building and businesses involved could have been saved. Click here to learn more about fire sprinklers.
Smoke spread through much of Lakeview Friday night as crews battled an extra-alarm fire and rescued a woman and a dog from an adjoining building, officials said.
Crews took a little more than 1-1/2 hours to extinguish the fire at 3330 N. Clark St., which demolished the one-story building, but there were no reports of injuries said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. A woman who was sleeping when the fire started and a dog were rescued by firefighters from a building just to the south of the building, and firefighters were able to keep the blaze from spreading to both that frame building and a brick building just north, he said.
The fire was raised to a 3-11 alarm response about 5:45 p.m. and struck out about 7 p.m., Langford said.
Fire commanders called a Mayday alert for trapped firefighters just after 8:30 p.m., when the ceiling in a portion of the building that had housed a Thai restaurant collapsed, but all firefighters were soon accounted for.
"It's a wonder that the fire didn't get ahold of that building" to the south, which was separated from the fire building by only about 8 inches, Langford said.
Kat Vallera, 27, lives about a block away and noticed smoke outside her window as she worked on a computer. The freelance photographer ran outside with her camera and saw flames engulfing the Samah Hooka Lounge.
"It looked like it started toward the back," Vallera said. "It started getting bigger and bigger ... and it just got out of control. The window of Samah just exploded right into the firefighters' faces. They were kneeling in front of the water, spraying the water upward when the window, it just exploded. You could feel the dust and the heat come back at you."
Vallera was supposed to attend an event for the nonprofit Music for Lombok, an organization that sends art supplies to children in Indonesia, she said. But hours before the event was scheduled to begin at Roadhouse 66, Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the building was a "total loss."
The businesses in the building hit by the fire were Samah, Roadhouse 66, and Thai Classic, according to the Fire Department.
The building's roof had collapsed, and firefighters at one point were pouring water from eight or nine hoses on the fire, from nearby roofs, tower ladders and the street, Langford said.
"This building will be nothing when this fire's done," Langford said.
Shortly before 8 p.m., Vallera said she looked out her window and saw that the smoke had largely dissipated.
At one point, an explosion of smoke billowed out of the front of the building, but no one was injured, Langford said. Firefighters stood by in the nearby frame structures, which fire officials were afraid would be ignited by the blaze, but crews were able to keep the fire from spreading, Langford said.
CTA "L" trains were not being affected by the fire, but buses in the area were being rerouted.
The flames were still visible from underneath the northwest side of the "L" tracks until about 6:45 p.m., when firefighters appeared to send a concentrated stream that put the visible flames out, causing a massive layer of smoke to fill the air. Police then taped off the area underneath the tracks, asking the 30 or so onlookers to step back.
After extinguishing the blaze, authorities continued to direct traffic around the affected areas between Clark Street and Sheffield Avenue. Water had flooded part of School Street, causing pedestrians and bicyclists to splash as they ran through it. Emergency vehicles were still in the area as of 7:45 p.m., but were starting to spool up their hoses and let more traffic through.
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