Palatine community unites after fire tears through condominium complex, displacing families

In Palatine, a community is uniting after a devastating fire left dozens of people without a home.

On Sunday, fire tore through two neighboring buildings, damaging more than 20 residential units and leaving about 50 people displaced.

As officials continued their investigation into what caused the fire, families were beginning to pick up the pieces on Monday with the help of their local community.

"A lot of people that live here, have lived here for a long time, a very long time, it’s just very, very sad that everyone lost everything in just a matter of seconds," said Stefany Vargas, neighbor.

Around 5:15 p.m. Sunday, fire crews responded to Dundee Quarter Drive for a fire at the Windhaven Condominium Complex.

The fire, which started in the roof area of one of the buildings, was driven by wind and quickly spread to the adjacent building.

"It got really foggy, we couldn’t really see anything, I would look outside, we had no windows open, and it was straight smoke. That’s all I could see," said Vargas.

In addition to the windy elements, firefighters faced other challenges, including a partial roof collapse. It took more than three hours before the fire was under control.

Fire crews stayed on scene until 6 a.m. Monday to ensure that the fire was fully extinguished, according to the Palatine Fire Department.

Missing walls, scorched appliances, and scattered belongings are the aftermath of the blaze.


"It was very, very emotional to see that these families don’t have anything to go home to anymore," said Kassandra Genger, who lives in Palatine. "It just kind of humbles you a little bit and makes you realize how precious things really are and how quickly they can disappear."

Now, area groups are rallying in support of the displaced residents.

St. Nectarios Greek Orthodox Church is hosting a collection drive to assist in this difficult time.

"We give thanks to our lord for watching over them so that no one was hurt or obviously killed," said Reverend Father Chris Mihalopoulos. "It's just who we are as Christians, naturally, for each and every one of us to show that not only our doors are open, but that we are here and we’re all neighbors and friends."

The parish is stepping up to help by collecting donations that will go toward gift cards for the victims, and plans to create kits with everyday essentials, including hygiene products.

The Red Cross of Illinois and the Salvation Army were on hand Sunday to assist residents in finding temporary shelter.

Meantime, children at three area schools are among those displaced.

According to a letter to families, Community Consolidated School District 15 is planning to collect donations for the fire victims, with more information to be announced in the coming days.