Chicago groom picks up tux just before extra-alarm blaze breaks out

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News / STMW) - A four alarm fire that started in a dry cleaners quickly spread through a strip mall in Albany Park, damaging or destroying at least five businesses.

Among the stores affected was a tuxedo shop, which is now working to take care of customers that have weddings this weekend.

Weddings are a joyful occasion, but they also come with a certain level of stress. So, imagine having a fire at the place where you and your wedding party rented your tuxes.

Moments before the blaze erupted, Jonothan Bonet was inside getting the tux for his wedding, which takes place on Saturday.

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“I was happy, I was thinking of going later on today, but I'm glad I did it in the morning,” Bonet said.

But imagine being Bonet’s future father-in-law. When he arrived and tried to pick up his tux, all he could see was billows of smoke.

The fire eventually became so intense and dangerous, it was escalated to a four alarm plan. It got into the roof where the buildings are supported by what's known as ‘bow string tresses.’

“Bowstring trusses are notorious, notorious for killing firefighters. So we were taking extreme caution and we started fighting this fire from the outside,” said Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner Mark Nielsen.

As the smoke billowed it actually caught fire and exploded, injuring three firefighters.

“And it made a big boom and it scared a lot of us. The injuries were minor,” Nielsen said.

With everything destroyed inside the tuxedo store, the manager had to scramble to help Bonet and eight or nine other wedding parties.

“We were able to contact all the people who hadn't picked up their tuxedos yet and have them pick up at our Lincoln Park location,” said Black Tie Formal Wear manager Joey Polizze.

“I was stressing out earlier, just making phone calls and when I found that out, I was happy,” Bonet added.

“I had a feeling everything was gonna work out, things happen for reason I guess, so it's a worry but most important thing is he got his tux and that's what matters,” said Miriam Gomez.

The fire started after 1 p.m. in the 3500 block of West Irving Park Road, according to Fire Media Affairs. It was raised to a 4th alarm about 3 p.m. A Haz-Mat response was also called.

Four firefighters were taken to Presence Resurrection Medical Center with minor injuries, according to the Fire Department. No other injuries were reported.

The fire was put out at 4:20 p.m., and the Haz-Mat situation was cleared 20 minutes later, fire officials said.

Firefighters do not know the cause of the blaze.

35th Ward Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa issued the following statement: “My prayers are with the affected small business owners, the Irving Park residents who have suffered smoke damage to their homes, and the three firefighters injured while battling the fire …”

“I encourage seniors and residents who live on the 4000 north block of Drake to seek medical assistance if they are facing respiratory problems. We will come together as a Ward and a neighborhood to support those impacted and rebound from this blaze,” the alderman said.