A dozen Evanston residents were displaced from an apartment complex in the 1600 block of Monroe Street and a firefighter was injured Monday after a fire left several homes uninhabitable, officials said.
“My kids have no coats, so I’m at the thrift store,” said Renee Irons, who’s lived in the apartment building since 2016. Her family lost all of their belongings in the fire. “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”
The fire began shortly after noon in a second-floor apartment.
Irons said she wasn’t home but her daughter Sharda Smith was, as was her son, who was on the couch watching TV. After hearing the fire alarm go off and seeing smoke from the kitchen, her two children left the house wearing only what they had on. Irons said Smith still had hair dye in her hair and it was more than an hour and a half before they could find somewhere to rinse it out.
The Evanston Fire Department reported that the responding crew came across heavy fire in the rear of the building and called for backup.
The fire was under control within 30 minutes and residents were safely evacuated by fire crews upon their arrival. Two cats and two dogs were also saved from the burning building and returned to their families, authorities said.
Smith, Irons’ daughter, told the RoundTable that the Fire Department arrived quickly and everyone evacuated safely, but the damage is extensive. The fire department had to break the windows of the building using metal tools to help the smoke escape.
Irons said that her family will be staying at another relative’s apartment, and, though she’s grateful for that, there’s “nothing like going to your own house, lying in your own bed.”
One firefighter was injured in the blaze and was treated on the scene but did not require hospitalization, fire officials said.
Part of Monroe Street was briefly closed after the fire to give fire officials a place to stage their vehicles, according to a Fire Department release.
This is the second Evanston fire in the past week. On Feb. 16 Evanston firefighters responded to a fire in the 1000 block of Fowler Avenue after someone used a torch to thaw a frozen water pipe, officials said. Only minimal fire and water damage occurred and no injuries were reported.