CHICAGO — One person is dead, nine people are injured and nearly 50 people are displaced after a high-rise apartment fire Wednesday in Chicago.
The fire happened at the Harper Square Cooperative in the 4800 block of South Lake Park.
Residents who watched the fire spread through the building said the whole day has been chaotic and scary.
Many of the building’s residents are seniors who have lived there for years, including the elderly woman who died in the fire.
Jauntanne Mays was trying to contact her close family friend who lived on the 15th floor. She later learned her family friend was the woman who died in the fire.
4th Ward Ald. Sophia King comforted her when she heard the news.
“She’s a close family friend, like an aunt to me,” Mays said.
Eight other residents suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Chicago Fire Department. One firefighter was also injured.
Other residents who made it out said it was chaos as they tried to get out as the building burned.
“Just the chaos of the building burning up,” Ken Harris, who lives on the 17th floor, said.
Harris and his wife were inside their apartment when they started smelling smoke.
“And she said ‘I smell smoke,’ and I opened the door and my neighbor had her dogs and they were leaving,” Harris said. “She said ‘There’s a fire under our unit.'”
Carlon Brown was at work when her daughter called.
“I had to leave and just to come see what’s going on because I heard it was on the 15th floor,” Brown said. “That’s the floor my unit is on.”
Those who live here said they are devasted to hear someone from their community died.
“I’m very sad this has happened,” Delores Dupee said. “Very sad.”
Shaakira Mason Holloway showed up with her arms full to help her aunt.
“We keep spare clothes in my house and now she can’t get back into her unit so I’m bringing clothes and because of all the smoke, I had a nebulizer at home.”
She said her aunt initially escaped the roof and is now staying with family in another apartment in the building.
King said she is working with the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
The Red Cross is assisting 47 residents who are displaced, King said. Because of the fire and water damage, the entire east side of the apartment building is uninhabitable.
Residents who need help filing insurance claims and accessing housing and resources should call the Red Cross at 1-800-733-2767 or King’s office at 773-536-8103.