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Chicago Ridge, Oak Lawn firefighters battle fires and frigid temperatures

By Dermot Connolly

Firefighters in Oak Lawn and Chicago Ridge had to fight near-record cold in addition to flames when fires broke out in apartment buildings in both communities about the same time on Jan. 30.

No injuries were reported in either blaze.

The fire in Oak Lawn struck first, about 5:30 p.m., in a three-story mixed-use building at 6837 W. 95th St. Apartments are located on the second and third floors, and two businesses are on the first floor.

According to reports, smoke and flames were pouring out of the third floor when firefighters arrived. Searches of the building were conducted, and no one was found inside. With assistance from firefighters from Evergreen Park and Hometown, the fire was doused in about two hours, according to the Oak Lawn department.

Warming buses were dispatched sent to provide relief to residents and firefighters alike, and Kolb School, at 9620 S. Normandy Ave., was opened as a warming shelter as well.

While the fire was being fought, the four-block stretch of 95th Street between Oak Park and Harlem Avenue was closed to traffic.

Although there were no injuries, inspectors declared the building uninhabitable.

Around the same time as that fire was underway, Chicago Ridge firefighters were called to one at 6:30 p.m. in a 12-unit apartment building in the 5600 block of West 108th Street. About 40 residents were displaced there, but no one was injured.

The cause of the Oak Lawn fire was under investigation this week, but according to published reports, a boiler apparently exploded in the Chicago Ridge building.

Displaced residents were given shelter at the Emergency Management Agency headquarters at 10655 S. Oak Ave., which is equipped as a warming shelter while waiting for assistance from Red Cross.

Earlier in the day — the coldest the Chicago area has seen in more than 20 years — warming buses and shelters were also made available for residents experiencing power outages in sections of Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park and other local communities. In Oak Lawn, a significant outage was centered around 91st Street and Central Avenue. But Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen said the village experienced 11 outages in total during the day, affecting approximately 1,600 households. In Evergreen Park, an area around 90th and California Avenue was also without power for several hours.

“The response was excellent from ComEd,” said Deetjen

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