CHATHAM — Plumes of black smoke could be seen in the sky from miles away as a fire took over a Chatham block near the childhood home of legendary Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks.
The fire erupted at about 3:50 p.m. Saturday in the 7400 block of South Champlain Avenue. The fire originated in a house that was vacant, but it spread. Five Chicago residents, including a child, have been displaced because of the fire, according to a Chicago Fire Department spokesman.
While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, fire officials said multiple homes suffered “extensive damage.”
Roskeyia Powell, 35, who lives in a two-flat building on the block, said her second floor neighbors a resident of a two-flat building on the block for five years, said her second floor neighbors alerted her to the fire, giving her enough time to escape. She and several other neighbors then called 9-1-1 and Chicago fire crews promptly arrived on the scene.
“We all ran out the building and when we stepped out it just went ‘woosh,’” Powell said. “Everybody made it out safe, including neighbors on the other side.”
Sylvia Cooper, 27, who lives on the second floor of the same two-flat building with her husband, said she was in the bathroom when her husband smelled something. Cooper then saw the flames.
“It was like something I’ve seen out of a movie,” Cooper said. “I just thank God that I got out, we got our family out, everybody got out safe. I just thank God everybody got out safe.”
Powell said the American Red Cross was contacted to assist those in need.
“The neighbors were great in being a community and helping each other and letting everyone know there was a fire,” Powell said.
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