Firefighters this morning searched the rubble of a two-story house that collapsed in flames to see if anyone was inside when the fire broke out overnight.
“We’re getting conflicting reports" from neighbors, said Fire Department spokesman Juan Hernandez. "We’re still not sure."
As of 9 a.m., fire officials had not found anyone in the house.
CTA bus driver heard a "pop" and saw flames coming from a building in the 100 block of West 73rd Street shortly after 1 a.m., Hernandez said.
When firefighters arrived, it appeared part of the building had already collapsed, Hernandez said. The entire building later fell in and the flames spread to two other buildings.
Firefighters battled the blaze from the outside and were still putting out hot spots hours later, Hernandez said. Firefighters were able to search the two buildings still standing and found no one inside.
A neighbor, Felicia Simpson, 33, said several people had been living in the home. "You would always see some little kids and at least two women," she said. "I'm just hoping they weren't in there."
Simpson's boyfriend, Demetrius Grier, 32, a photographer who lives in the neighborhood, said he would often play basketball across 73rd Street from the building.
He said until about two weeks ago he would often see people in the building. Since then, he had not seen any one there. He does not believe anyone was in the building at the time of the fire.
“You would always see somebody over there,” said Grier, as he leaned on a fence at the south end of the basketball court, looking out at the firefighters battling the fire.
He said about two weeks ago he spotted representatives of the Cook County Sheriff's office at the building and wondered if the people had been evicted or if the building was in foreclosure.
“I’m pretty sure there was no one there (today),” Grier said.
The cause of the blaze has not been determined.
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