Fire destroyed a strip mall in Chicago's East Garfield Park neighborhood. Investigators are looking into how the fire started. (WLS)
Updated 1 hr 9 mins ago
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Firefighters put out hot spots Tuesday morning at the scene of a strip mall fire on Chicago's West Side that destroyed several businesses Monday night.
Crews raced to the row of businesses, which included a Family Dollar, a beauty supply store and a J&J Fish restaurant, in the 400-block of South Kedzie Avenue in the city's East Garfield Park neighborhood around 7:15 p.m. Monday. When they arrived, the stores were engulfed by flames.
Due to the intensity of the fire, more than 150 firefighters were called to the scene. They tried to get inside, but were forced back out.
"When they realized it was lightweight construction and the fire is aggressively gaining momentum, they back out. Lightweight construction will fail very quickly," said Michael Carbone, Assistant Fire Chief, Chicago Fire Department.
The fire was struck out by around 10 p.m. Two firefighters were hospitalized for smoke inhalation. They are expected to be OK.
The stores are black and gutted. Portions of them smoldered overnight. Officials said it is unlikely anything will be salvageable.
"This is a neighborhood plaza and provided more for the neighbors than anyone else. It's a catastrophe," said Fred Akkawi, who owned a business in the strip mall.
Investigators are looking into how the fire started.
"It could have been a lot of things. It could have been the fire load inside the occupancy. You've got a lot of aerosol cans, you've got a lot of chemicals in there and that could have fueled the fire. There's a lot of paper products and a lot of product, a lot of liquid products and a lot of flammable products there," Carbone said.