Mount Prospect apartment complex fire displaces 100 residents

Dozens of families are picking up the pieces in northwest suburban Mount Prospect after a raging fire at Orion Parkview Apartments displaced them overnight.

With all 36 units affected by the fire – which broke out Monday evening – the building is expected to be a total loss. Now, approximately 100 residents are without a home.

Around 6:45 p.m. Monday, firefighters responded to the complex, located in the 1800 block of West Palm Drive, after a fire alarm was automatically activated.

"In the balcony we saw some flames coming from this building, and once we saw it, we just panicked," said Shubham Mane, who was displaced due to the fire. "We don’t know where to start."

When first responders arrived, heavy smoke could be seen coming from the roof and firefighters made entry; however, conditions deteriorated rapidly, according to officials.

"They tried to make an interior attack in the beginning, there were many companies upstairs, but visibility was zero," said Deputy Fire Chief Tom Wang, Mount Prospect Fire Department.

Fire crews were ordered out of the building and were forced to initiate defensive operations.

With crews relying on heavy equipment, Monday’s high temperatures didn't help.

"There were about 100 firefighters on scene and a lot of rotation," said Wang.

Village officials said the building's mansard roof design added to the complications, calling it a "perfect storm of operational challenges."

More than 30 neighboring fire and EMS units were called in to assist with the operation.

Citizen App video captured flames shooting from the three-story complex.

"It was burning all night," said Vanessa Perez, who lives nearby. "It was something that they had to kind of just let take its course."

After nearly eight hours – the fire was extinguished around 3:15 a.m. Tuesday, but later that afternoon a hot spot brought firefighters back to the scene. The hot spot was struck out within 30 minutes.

Investigators believe the initial fire started in a small attic space, but the exact cause remains under investigation.

No injuries were reported, and all residents were accounted for.  

"That is our priority – making sure everyone is safe and in this heat that everybody has a safe place to go," said Connie Esparza, communications manager, American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross responded to the complex immediately, where volunteers began working with families to replace necessary medications, provide food, and coordinate shelter.

Some displaced tenants are staying in hotels or with family members, while others have been transferred to vacant units elsewhere in the complex.

"We’ve got disaster mental health professionals there as well to work with those residents and we’ll be there for the duration," said Esparza.

In addition to Red Cross volunteers, Mount Prospect Emergency Management and Human Services staff – including social workers – established an on-site intake center to assess the needs of residents and connect them with resources.

If community members would like to help displaced residents get back on their feet, the Village of Mount Prospect is accepting donations of non-perishable food items and gift cards at Village Hall. For questions or assistance, the Human Services Department can be reached at 847-870-5680.

To volunteer with the American Red Cross during disaster responses or to make a donation to the organization, CLICK HERE.