Flames tore through a South Shore neighborhood apartment complex early Sunday, leaving several Chicago families without a home. The Chicago Fire Department battled the two-alarm blaze that broke out on the 7800 block of S. South Shore Drive, causing significant damage to the building and displacing up to 30 residents, no injuries were reported.
2-11 Alarm/EMS Plan 1 - 7836 S South Shore Dr- No transports all companies work. pic.twitter.com/jQRF8xVRvj— Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) February 11, 2024
Over a hundred evacuees watched as firefighters worked the scene, where an individual in a wheelchair was saved from the second-floor inferno. "The guys did a really good job going up there and bringing the lady down," CFD Deputy Chief Anthony Frazier told ABC7 Chicago. In response to the immediate needs of those affected, the Chicago Fire Department provided a warming bus for families seeking refuge from the cold.
Moments after the fire engulfed their homes, residents recounted their losses and experiences. Kimberly Klaver, a mother who fled with her children said, "I hurried up and grabbed my kids in their diapers and put them in my coat and I ran out the door," in a statement obtained by ABC7 Chicago. The Klaver family's apartment sustained water damage rendering it uninhabitable.
Another resident, Rizelle Maltbia, faced immense setbacks due to the flames. He lamented over his lost possessions, "I'm in school for medical assistant and I lost my laptop, bus card, and phones," Maltbia said to ABC7 Chicago. "I'm out here in long johns and I lost everything." The fire not only charred belongings but also the aspirations of those like Maltbia striving for a better life.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, as community members and local authorities begin the arduous task of rebuilding lives amid the charred remnants of what used to be their homes. In the aftermath of such a blaze, the resilience of the South Shore community will be tested, as will the city's response to the needs of its displaced citizens.