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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Neighbors Launch GoFundMe To Help Irving Park Women Find New Home After Fire

“They were only able to save the clothes on their backs. They lost everything else,” said one of the victim's daughters.

Left to right: Teodora Suárez, 37, her daughter Alison Suárez, 10, and friend Rosalba Sánchez, 57.
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IRVING PARK — Neighbors are helping an Irving Park family recover from a fire that forced them out of their home earlier this month.

Rosalba Sánchez, 57, her friend, Teodora Suárez, 37, and her daughter, Alison Suárez, 10, shared a garden apartment at 3754 N. Sawyer Ave. The morning of July 11, their home caught fire and they had to flee.

While no one was injured, they’ve been been looking for a new home since.

Credit: provided
The women lost everything in the July 11, 2020 fire in their garden apartment at 3754 N. Sawyer Ave.

“They were only able to save the clothes on their backs. They lost everything else,” said Miriam Avila, Sánchez’s daughter, in Spanish.

Ken Barrios, a neighbor, launched a GoFundMe to help the women get back on their feet. It’s raised $3,740 of its $10,000 goal as of Thursday. 

“Thankfully, everyone remained uninjured. However, the material loss — most prominently a home — is devastating in an already financially strained time in the middle of a pandemic,” Barrios wrote in the GoFundMe. 

The day of the fire, Sánchez was at work while Suárez was at home with her daughter. Around 8 a.m., Suárez heard three loud explosions in the apartment and ran out of the building with her daughter, Avila said.

Neighbors and Avila said the fire was apparently caused by a power line that fell and hit a metal fence in the backyard of their apartment building. As the electricity coursed through the fence, it reached the building and caused a circuit breaker in the garden apartment to explode, they said.

The garden apartment fire was electrical in nature and caused by an accident, said Larry Merritt, a Chicago Fire department spokesperson. Merritt didn’t have any additional information about the fire and couldn’t confirm what caused it.

A neighbor who owns a nearby apartment building has let Sánchez, Suárez and her daughter stay there temporarily, but the unit was previously rented out and the new lease starts next week, Avila said. 

“Right now we’re still helping them look for a long-term apartment nearby, but we need a deposit to help do that,” Avila said.

Funds from the GoFundMe will be used to cover the deposit and rent of the new apartment as well as buying beds and other things the women need right now, Avila said.

“There are good people in this life still. I can’t begin to thank them and am at a loss for words that they are helping my mother,” Avila said. 

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