Victims of devastating suburban fire return to homes to salvage what's left

One week after a devastating fire ripped through a condo complex in Prospect Heights, residents on Thursday were finally able to get back into their homes to salvage what's left.

There were tears and also cheers for what they found.

It was an emotional homecoming for those who've been homeless since last week's fire.

"It's dirty, it's nasty. There's water everywhere. Parts of the ceiling have fell off. When you go in the building you can see the sky now,” said Diana Soto.

Residents were allowed back inside the three buildings leveled by fire at the River Trails condominium complex, but only for a couple hours and only to salvage what wasn't destroyed by flame, smoke or water.

"It's hard seeing everything destroyed. You once lived there,” said Raul Lugo.

Residents carried out boxes and bags filled with salvaged belongings, everything from potted plants to paintings, pottery and pool floaties.

One young soccer fan was delighted to find his World Cup cards intact.

Last week’s fire, started by a boy playing with a lighter, destroyed nearly 100 condo units in the complex, displacing several hundred residents and causing ten million dollars in damage.

It also prompted a huge outpouring of community support.

Reverend John Elleson of the Lakewood Chapel in Arlington Heights showed FOX 32 just a portion of the mountain of donations for the fire victims.

"Lots of clothes, food, all the necessities you would need in a home,” said Elleson.

There are plans to rebuild, but it will likely be two years before their new homes are ready to move in.