On Tuesday afternoon, an extra-alarm fire ripped through a parking garage in the Illinois Medical District in the Near West Side of the city.
The Garibaldi Square on the Park townhouse complex is located at 711 S. Ashland Ave., between Flournoy and Polk streets, and has a truss-roofed parking garage where the fire started. The fire started in one car and quickly spread to close to 30 additional vehicles. The garage’s roof gave way and fell over the automobiles, possibly igniting more of them.
There was a 2-11 call for more equipment and personnel. A little less than 100 firefighters were dispatched to put out the fire. The Rush University Medical Center campus is within a short distance from the site. Staff could smell smoke coming from a medical building, according to a Citizen app report.
The University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center is also close by. Just to the south on Ashland Avenue is the St. Basil Greek Orthodox Church. The nearby Eisenhower Expressway, to the north, could also see the fire. There was no damage or hazard to the townhouses in Garibaldi Park or any other surrounding structures.
Video from the fire department showed plumes of smoke rising and intense orange flames leaping out of the brick building. By 4:37 p.m., the alarm had been silenced and the fire had been put out. So many cars were in burned-out wrecks when night fell.
An automobile horn from a burned-out vehicle blared in the night beneath the ashes in the light rain. For Garibaldi Square inhabitants, the losses were very severe. Nadim Mahmud reported that his wife had noticed some smoke in the kitchen. It didn’t take long to see that every automobile in the garage was damaged.
About 40 automobiles are typically parked in the garage, several Garibaldi Park residents told CBS 2’s Jermont Terry. They guessed that there were perhaps 20 automobiles in the garage at the time of the fire, which started in the middle of the day.
Many onlookers witnessed their automobiles burn in horror as firefighters battled to contain the blaze. You don’t anticipate seeing your house or anything else you own on fire said Piper Hawkins-Green, a resident of Garibaldi Square.
The fire started while Hawkins-Green was at home. She reported, “I heard popping and loud shouts.” Car engines and tires exploding were the sounds she heard. Firefighters had already arrived as she went outdoors.
Thankfully, none of the units was damaged, according to Hawkins-Green. The garage was surrounded by 42 townhouses, but the fire was contained by the fire department before it could spread to any of them.
Jitin Srivastava said, “I truly appreciate the effort because if they weren’t here in time, the fire would have reached our houses and we would have probably either had to flee or be in danger.
Residents were upset that their cars were reduced to charred carcasses even though it took under 100 firefighters and several hours to put out the flames. It makes me very sad, said Srivastava. I lost my car.
However, they are grateful that no one was present when the garage’s roof collapsed or, more importantly, when the first car caught fire. Although it’s upsetting to witness, Hawkins-Green continued, “when you consider that it’s only a car and not life, it’s okay.” But to witness all of this is incredibly terrible.
Everyone was relieved that nobody was inside the garage when the first car caught fire or when the roof fell because there were no reported injuries. Tuesday night, many car owners called their insurance providers to start making claims after their vehicles were wrecked.