Roofer dies, 4 co-workers injured during blaze at Ill. parking garage

Crews found the badly burned remains of the roofer inside a small room, crawlspace above an “elevator room’’

By Rosemary Sobol and Anna Spoerre
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — One roofer was dead and four other workers suffered burns and were taken to hospitals following a that broke out at a parking garage in Chicago's River North neighborhood on Saturday afternoon, officials said.

Multiple 911 calls began lighting up phones shortly after 1:20 p.m. reporting fire or smoke from the roof of the 9-story building at the northeast corner of Orleans and Hubbard streets, Chicago Fire Dept. Chief Juan Hernandez said.

Firefighters, some hauling hoses, began hustling up the stairwell.

“They encountered four victims running from the fire, on the stairway,’’ said Hernandez. The elevators were out.

The victims, who’d been doing roof work from inside the structure, told firefighters more people were hurt, but crews weren’t sure how many more so they ordered five more ambulances — for a total of at least 10 — to the scene.

Crews found the badly burned remains of the fifth victim inside a small room, crawlspace above an “elevator room’’ where they all had been doing work, Hernandez said.

Two men were taken to Stroger Hospital and two others to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Hernandez said, who did not say their conditions. Officer Jessica Rocco, a police spokeswoman, said they were burned.

“It’s still under investigation as to what occurred or what caused the fire,’’ Hernandez said.

Earlier, water splashed from the glass windows and roof of the building and white smoke billowed. No flames could be seen.

Several police officers paced nearby, keeping pedestrians and cars away from the building, and two ambulances remained, parked near the building.

Thomas Gray, 27, of Belvidere, was walking to his car after work just before 2 p.m. when he noticed white smoke rolling out of the top of the garage, where his car is parked.

“I have a late Christmas party I’m supposed to be at, so that sucks,” he said.

Firefighters started punching open windows in the top floor a few minutes after the smoke stopped.

“I worked 16 hours yesterday and 8 hours today, so being home would be nice right now,” Gray added as he looked up at the building as firefighters started to trickle back out of the building.

The parking garage remained shuttered as of about 3:30 p.m. for an investigation, Hernandez said.

Copyright 2018 Chicago Tribune


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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