Four-alarm fire destroys 22 apartments in Oak Park

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OAK PARK, Ill. (STMW) - Firefighters responded to the four-alarm blaze about 9:30 p.m. at the three-story, 22-unit apartment building in the 200 block of Washington Boulevard, Oak Park Fire Department Deputy Chief Peter Pilafas told reporters at the scene.

Upon arrival, crews encountered heavy flames in the rear of the building, stretching from the ground to the roof, Pilafas said. One firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.

No residents were injured, but all 22 units were rendered uninhabitable, Pilafas said. The American Red Cross was called to the scene to assist with housing for the residents, who took shelter in a Pace bus while investigators interviewed them in the hopes of determining the cause of the fire.

A two-flat building to the east of the apartment complex may have also suffered damage because of the fire, Pilafas said. Firefighters from 11 surrounding communities assisted in extinguishing the blaze.

Theresa Davis, a resident on the third floor, told reporters that she and her daughter were getting ready for bed when the girl screamed that she heard a loud boom.

“It’s like something had exploded in just mid-air,” she said. “All of a sudden there was a rush of smoke that just, like, engulfed through our apartment and it’s like we heard the windows busting and everything. We were like, ‘Oh my god, it’s an explosion!’ So I was like, ‘Let’s get out of the house, get out of the house!’ We couldn’t think of anything else to do but hurry and race out.”

Davis said she didn’t know what caused the fire, but added that it happened so fast that it caught her off guard. She ran out of the house with only flip flops on her feet.

“It was just really, really horrifying,” she said. “I’m just so glad that we got out in time, me and my family.”