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Breaking News: Chicagoist's Building on Fire

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jan 27, 2007 4:15AM

chicagoist_news_2626_fire2.jpgThis Chicagoist has just arrived home from work around 6:30 when we heard sirens get louder and louder, and then saw a number of fire engines pull up in front of our building at 2626 N. Lakeview. We knew something terrible was happening when we continued to hear more sirens.

We were already getting ready to leave for dinner anyway, so we rushed to put on our shoes so we could leave. The elevators didn't work, so we were glad that we live on only the 3rd floor. Once in the lobby, we learned that there was a fire on the 26th floor — unit 2612.

chicagoist_news_2626_fire1.jpgDozens of firefighters rushed in and out — with hoses, equipment and safety gear. A few minutes later, we saw firefighters rush an elderly man into the lobby and put him on a stretcher before taking him to an ambulance. This man was the resident of the unit. We also saw an elderly woman — who we heard was from unit 1311 — taken away on a stretcher, the apparent victim of a heart attack while evacuating. CBS2 is now reporting that five were injured, and both of the critical vicitms have died.

With dinner reservations, and no place to go anyway, we went to dinner. We arrived back at the building around 9:00, just as they were finally letting residents back in. The Red Cross had arrived and was assisting the residents of the 26th floor, who will not be allowed back into their condos tonight.

This was not the first time this has happened in our building. A similar incident took place in March 2003, although without casualties. As a result of that incident, we at least knew some of what did and did not happen tonight.

Many of our neighbors were concerned that they did not hear fire alarms telling them to evacuate. We learned last time — we'd been getting ready for work at the time of the last one — that because each unit's wall and door are fire-rated for 2 hours, they only evacuate the floor on which there is the fire, and the floors above and below, to prevent bottlenecks in the stairways. If additional evacuations are necessary, they do them in progression.

With the building staff and emergency personnel tending to those more immediately affected, we don't yet know the cause of tonight's fire. We will post an update as we learn more information.

Update: Our neighbors who died as a result of the fire were identified as Asli Azizi, 87, and Charles Bridges Peter Zanet, 81. Charles Bridges, his former partner, died in 2005.