Chicago Fire Department reveals cause of deadly high-rise fire in Kenwood

The Chicago Fire Department determined what caused the four-alarm fire in a Kenwood apartment building that killed one, injured at least nine others and displaced over 100 residents Wednesday morning. 

The Office of Fire Investigation says the cause of the extra-alarm fire on Lake Park Avenue was "careless use of smoking materials that ignited combustibles in a bedroom." 

Officials say the fire was accidental and smoke detector in the residence was not working at the time of the fire.

The blaze broke out just after 10 a.m. in Harper Square Cooperative located at 4850 Lake Park Avenue.

The fire began on the 15th floor and quickly made its way upward. Officials say the fire affected 10 floors and residents near the top of the building were evacuated, those with special needs were prioritized.

"The fire went up vertically all the way to floor 24. Chicago Firefighters did an outstanding job," Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said.

A resident on the 16th floor smelled smoke and called 911.

A woman in her 80s was found dead in a unit on the 15th floor, officials said in a news conference. Seven other people were injured, including a 70-year-old woman taken in critical condition to a hospital, according to fire officials.

One firefighter was taken to an area hospital for smoke inhalation. 

"I will tell you when I first walked up, I was aghast and my heart sunk," Ald. Sophia King (4th) said. "But after talking to leadership, first responders, they have the situation under control." 


At one point elevators were down causing even more of a challenge for responders. Officials said over 300 fire personnel responded to the scene with 85 pieces of equipment. 

The building has failed seven inspections since Oct. 27, 2021, according to city records.

Many residents told FOX 32 news they never heard an alarm sound during the fire. 

There are 298 units in the building, and of those, only 267 were occupied. At least 130 residents are now temporarily displaced.

The Red Cross, Salvation Army and resources from the City of Chicago were on hand all day Wednesday helping people locate temporary housing. 

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.