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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Pilsen Homeowners Ask For Help After Losing Everything In A Fire: ‘We Don’t Really Know What To Do’

Albert Ruiz said he and his girlfriend lost almost everything, including all the things they'd bought for their baby, who's due in October.

Albert Ruiz and his girlfriend, Catherine, just arrived home when she smelled smoke and saw a fire upstairs.
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PILSEN — Family and friends are raising money for a Pilsen couple whose house was destroyed in a fire last week.

The fundraiser has a goal of $20,000 to help the young family rebuild and find shelter as they try to balance the loss of their home with the pending arrival of their first child. Donations can be made online.

The fire happened 7 p.m. June 28 at 2323 S. Seeley Ave., officials said. The building collapsed, leaving six people without a home, though no one was injured. The cause has yet to be determined because so much was destroyed, Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford said.

Albert Ruiz, whose home is next to the building where the fire started, and his girlfriend, Catherine, just arrived home when she smelled smoke and saw a fire upstairs, he said. They ran out and called 911, he said.

The fire damaged multiple rooms, destroyed the building’s attic and roof and collapsed the main floor’s ceilings — and water from the firefighters putting out the blaze “pretty much destroyed everything” else, Ruiz said.

Ruiz has been in the home for about eight years and had recently completed about $50,000 worth of renovations, he said. He and his girlfriend had also started buying things to prepare for their baby, who’s due in October.

“We’re definitely gonna stay in Pilsen, and we’re going to try to rebuild if we can,” Ruiz said. “I mean, it really depends on my insurance. My worry is that I’m not going to get the full value.”

Ruiz said his insurance estimated the family will be displaced for nine months to a year. They have a dog and a pet pig, which might make finding long-term temporary housing difficult, he said.

“It definitely put a lot of stress on our first baby,” he said. “We’re all over the place; we don’t really know what to do.”

The GoFundMe has raised more than $8,800. Ruiz said the money will go towards rebuying essentials and items for their baby.

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