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'A Nice Wake Up Call' After Fire Forces Apartment Residents Into Street On Near North Side

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Giant flames shot out from the roof of a Near North Side building Wednesday, forcing hundreds of people out of their apartments and into the street.

As CBS 2's Brandon Merano reported Wednesday, there have been previous problems in the building.

Before 11 a.m., flames shot from the roof at Bush Temple Apartments, at 108 W. Chicago Ave. in Chicago's River North neighborhood.

"Yeah it was a nice wake up call. So I had to text my manager and tell him I was going to be offline for a little bit this morning," said resident A.J. Seltz.

The fire happened in the apartment's patio area.

"It was a rooftop couch area and I think the couches or something like that might have started on fire," Seltz said.

About a dozen firefighters were fighting the flames Wednesday morning for more than two hours, leaving more than 100 residents and their pets watching from the street below.

"People were knocking on our doors and we got a notification from the building saying it was on fire. (I) came outside and made some new friends with the neighbors today, but I was definitely not expecting that," said resident Lauren Mueller.

After digging into the building's inspection history, CBS 2 found inspectors hit Bush Temple with dozens of building code violations in the past.

They include fire-related code violations in the last two years.

May 2019: Citation over tests on their fire protection system.

September 2019: Violation for the elevator fire service system.

November 2019: Failure to keep the elevator up to code.

December 2020: Overdue fire alarm system test.

On Wednesday, instead of a test, residents woke up to the real thing.

"Oh a bit of panic, and then I saw the firefighters walking on my floor so I said it's probably time to evacuate, Mueller said. "And I could smell the smoke so it was time to get out."

Now the fire is out -- fire investigators are still trying to figure out an official cause.

"Yeah, it was an interesting way to start the day," Seltz said.

The good news: Nobody was hurt in Wednesday's fire and all residents are able to go back in their apartments.

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