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Extra-Alarm Blaze At Chicago Firehouse Restaurant

Updated 12/10/14 - 4:13 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago firefighters were battling an extra-alarm blaze Wednesday morning at a popular South Loop steakhouse.

The fire started around 10:30 a.m. at the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant, at 1401 S. Michigan Av.

Flames and heavy smoke poured through the roof, and the Fire Department eventually upgraded the fire to a 3-11 alarm, bringing a total of about 125 firefighters, 12 engines, 4 trucks, and 2 tower ladders, 6 battalion chiefs, two deputy district chiefs, a district chief, a deputy fire commissioner, a command van, an air mask truck, and an ambulance to the scene.

The roof collapsed in the blaze. The Fire Department said there was construction work underway on the roof Wednesday morning, and workers were using four 100-pound propane tanks.

Dorothy O'Malley, the mother of restaurant owner Matthew O'Malley, said the fire is devastating for the family.

"I have memories from the very beginning when it was being renovated to yesterday evening when I had dinner with the new pastor of Old St. Mary's," she said.


Martin O'Malley and the Firehouse Restaurant were hit with a foreclosure lawsuit filed by Northbrook Bank and Trust in 2013.

The bank said O'Malley failed to pay off a $2.7 million loan on the property.

O'Malley has been the defendant in other multi-million dollar foreclosure lawsuits on other properties on South Michigan Avenue.

He is also a co-owner of the Park Grill in Millennium Park and there have been allegations for years now that the Park Grill owners got a sweetheart deal from the Chicago Park District when Richard M. Daley was mayor.

The yellow brick and limestone building is literally a former Chicago firehouse, which was built in 1905. Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago worked out of the building when he was a young firefighter. The former Engine 104 firehouse was converted into a restaurant in 1999. The building was used to film scenes for the 1991 film Backdraft.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley was a regular guest at the restaurant, as he once lived in a townhouse nearby. He even took former President George W. Bush there for his birthday in 2006. A dining room at the steakhouse has been named after Daley.

The Martin O'Malley released a statement saying that they are grateful no one was injured and that they are determined to rebuild.

"We owe it to our history, our team and our community to preserve this treasured Chicago landmark which will remain a cornerstone of the South Loop neighborhood. Without hesitation or reservation we will rebuild," the statement said.

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