LOGAN SQUARE — A Logan Square family who lost everything in an apartment building fire late last year needs help resettling in the neighborhood.
The family — a single mother and her four sons, ages 18, 17, 14 and 14 — had been living in a two-bedroom garden apartment in the 2700 block of North St. Louis Avenue for about a year and a half when their building caught fire.
Around 3:45 a.m. Dec. 22, the family was awoken by pounding on the door, the mother said in Spanish through a translator. She asked that her name not be used for safety reasons.
Firefighters rushed the family and other tenants out of the building as they battled the blaze, which Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt said started in one of the apartments’ kitchens. The building had three units.
Though the fire was confined to the kitchen, the damage had a devastating impact on the family, who were rebuilding their lives when tragedy struck.
Christian Diaz with Logan Square Neighborhood Association launched an online fundraiser this week to help get the family back on their feet.
“Logan Square is known for neighbors coming together to help each other,” Diaz wrote.
‘The Kids Want To Go Back To School’
The woman said her family lost almost all of their personal belongings in the fire — just a few days before they planned to celebrate Christmas together.
Amid the chaos, the woman said she was only able to save some of their “best” clothing. The rest of their belongings had water damage.
After the fire, the woman tried to find a new apartment in the Logan Square area, but she wasn’t able to find a place she could afford despite having lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years. She cleans homes and Downtown offices for a living. The garden apartment cost her $800 a month plus utilities, she said.
Out of desperation, the family moved into a relative’s place in suburban Des Plaines, about 40 minutes northwest of the city. As a result, the kids are many miles away from their school, ASPIRA Business & Finance High School at 2989 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The woman said her kids miss their school dearly and are falling behind academically. For the time being, they’re attending school in Des Plaines, but they’re anxious to return to ASPIRA, she said.
“More than anything, we want to find an apartment [in Logan Square] because the kids want to go back to school. That’s what worries us the most,” she said.
The woman said the fire was especially devastating, given her family’s history.
Though the garden apartment wasn’t perfect — it only had two bedrooms, so the mother had to sleep in the living room — it was a bright spot in an otherwise difficult few years. Prior to moving in, the family lived in a domestic violence shelter in the city. The woman said she’d fled an abusive relationship.
Watching their apartment go up flames felt like a symbolic loss.
“I felt sad because we had finally gotten our own apartment,” she said.
With the fundraiser, Diaz hopes to raise $10,000 to help the family start fresh. All of the money raised will go toward rent, food, transportation and “any other needs they may have,” he wrote.
To donate, go here.
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