CHICAGO — Several families are without a home after flames ripped through a Northwest Side apartment building Saturday night, killing one person and injuring another.
With Christmas less than one week away, many tenants who spoke with WGN News say they don’t have renter’s insurance. The American Red Cross has offered to help displaced families find temporary housing.
For Julissa Duran, salvaging pictures of her parents and sister from her torched second-floor apartment was paramount, but the devastation remains.
“I feel like, for me, it’s just hard to believe that this is what we used to call our home,” Duran said. “Now, we don’t have anything.”
Duran’s family wasn’t home when flames shot through their roof just after 7 p.m. The fire department called an extra alarm to Grand and Laramie due to the blaze spreading to the units in the building next door.
Venancio Delfino, an 81-year-old man who lived in the unit below Duran, did not survive. Two other people were hurt in the blaze. A dog also perished.
“Apparently, our downstairs neighbor had left some food ready for his father, and then he went off to work,” Duran said.
As the fire department investigates the cause of the blaze, tenants are left in the cold days before Christmas.
“I don’t even know who gave them to me but they gave me these pants to put on so I wouldn’t freeze,” Tamanique Porter, a displaced tenant, said. “The scary part is not knowing where you’re going to go for the next 10, 20, 40 days without a dime in your pocket. We just paid rent. So Christmas, I can’t even think of Christmas. I’m just trying not to break down in front of my kids.”
The landlord arrived at the property site Sunday morning. WGN News attempted to speak with the landlord unsuccessfully after she refused to answer questions. But tenants say, they too, are being shut out.
“When we asked if we had to leave, if she could give us a deposit back or ask like do you have any more units for us to go to, she just looked at us and walked past,” Porter said.
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A fire department spokesman told WGN News authorities are still attempting to get in touch with the landlord of the building.
“We’re at a loss. Of our things, everything,” Duran stated. “We haven’t heard back about our deposits. Nothing.”