IRVING PARK — Neighbors are collecting money to help an Irving Park family who lost their home in a Thursday fire.
Athena and Michael Cabrero had been living in the apartment at 3051 W. Irving Park Road for more than a decade with their five children: Gabriel, 11, Savannah, 13, Angelina, 16, Matthew, 17, and Jada, 21.
The fire was initially reported about 3 p.m., said Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt. No one was injured and the fire was put out by crews around 4 p.m.
Neighbors stood across the street watching as the fire crews worked and police blocked off all traffic in the 3000 block of West Irving Park Road.
“We were in the office and saw that there was a fire down on Irving,” said Chris Poulos, chief of staff to Ald. Rossana Rodriguez (33rd).
As of Friday the cause of the fire had not yet been determined, Merritt said.
After the fire, Dulce Arroyo, a friend of the Cabrero family, launched a Facebook fundraiser to help her neighbors.
“The family was watching TV and relaxing when Athena [Cabrero] realized it smelled like smoke outside the house, while her husband Michael [Cabrero] was coming from work at the Hyatt Regency Hotel,” Arroyo said in the Facebook fundraiser post. “Michael [Cabrero] got the call from his wife, jumped off the bus at Kimball and ran straight home to find his family safe outside while firefighters worked tirelessly to put out the fire.”
As of Friday morning, the fundraiser had raised $2,600 of its $20,000 goal.
Arroyo was in her home nearby when she heard the helicopters overhead, but because she didn’t smell smoke right away she didn’t realize they were there for a fire.
“I just thought they were there because of traffic,” she said.
Once she stepped outside, she saw crews working to put out the last of the fire. She was pointed in the direction of Michael Cabrero, who was sitting on the ground.
“Neighbors told me the family was okay, but they’ve lived there for like 13 years and lost everything in that fire,” she said. “He looked so sad. That’s when I went up to introduce myself and ask if we could do something for his family.”
After chatting for a bit Arroyo had the idea to launch a fundraising campaign for the family. She launched the campaign with the family’s approval.
Pouolos, who works for the alderman’s office, confirmed the fundraiser will benefit the family.
Arroyo ran back home to grab her laptop to launch the fundraiser and met up with the family as they were headed to the 33rd Ward’s neighborhood office at 3001 W. Irving Park Road, where staff got them some tacos.
According to property records, the building that caught fire was built in 1896 and was last sold for $146,000 in 2016.
The Cabrero family was not immediately available for comment Thursday night.
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