Fire Guts Garage on 88th Street
Oak Lawn firefighters battle second garage fire in one day.
An explosion inside the attached garage of a home in the 5800 block of West 88th Street sent nine family members scurrying for their lives, grabbing young children and pets as they fled outside late Monday afternoon.
Jessica Alvarado, drawing a borrowed coat around her shoulders as she watched Oak Lawn firefighters sift through the rubble of her family's garage, said she had just put her nieces and nephews down for a nap when she felt and heard the explosion through her bedroom floor.
"I had just reached my bedroom, which is over the garage," Alvarado said. "My dad was coming into the house and the garage just blew up behind him."
Alvarado grabbed her nieces and nephews while her mother grabbed the family dogs. Everyone who was inside the house, including Alvarado's father, got out safely. Alvarado said she hadn't seen her father since they ran out of the house. He was holed up in a car trying to keep her four nieces and nephews warm who ranged in age from 12 months to 6 years old.
A neighbor held the family's Yorkshire terrier, Rocky, inside her coat, while another dog was in a neighbor's house.
Both family cars sustained heavy damage; the car parked inside the garage appeared totaled. Alvarado did not know the condition inside her family's home, where she lived with eight family members.
"I don't know if the fire got into the house," she said. "They (firefighters) haven't told us yet."
It was the second such fire involving a garage that the Oak Lawn Fire Department fought on Monday. Earlier in the afternoon, a similar garage explosion occurred in the 10700 block of Lockwood Avenue.
Oak Lawn Battalion Chief Mike Jensen said the cause of both fires was still under investigation but he did not suspect foul play. There were no injuries to firefighters or residents in either fire.
"I think it's a matter of chance," Jensen said.
Jensen described the second fire as well involved by the time village firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after 5 p.m. The fire in the garage was just starting to go into the house.
"The occupants were out before we got here," Jensen said.
Firefighters twice searched the home's three stories to make sure that everyone got out safely.
"We got to go in and try," Jensen said.
In addition to Oak Lawn, fire companies from Chicago Ridge, Bridgeview and Roberts Park were called in for backup. About 10 pieces of equipment and a battalion chief from Bridgeview were brought in to help battle the blaze that was quickly extinguished.
A rescue squad also stood ready to assist village firefighters should they have gotten into trouble as they searched the house.
Jensen said the house on 88th Street sustained heavy smoke damage.