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Fire spreads to 3 houses on Chicago's Northwest Side

Three houses damaged in Northwest Chicago fire
Three houses damaged in Northwest Chicago fire 02:27

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A fire in the Northwest Side's Avondale neighborhood spread to three homes Friday evening.

It was believed the fire started in the back of one of the frame houses in the 2800 block of North Christiana Avenue – close to the six-way intersection of Milwaukee, Kimball, and Diversey avenues. The fire spread to two other houses.

The Fire Department called a 2-11 alarm for additional equipment and manpower within 10 minutes of the additional call for help. A 2-11 alarm brings 32 pieces of fire equipment and just short of 100 firefighters.

Gary Durbin and his mother, Aline, live in one of the homes that caught fire.

"We lost everything," said Durbin. "I mean, we don't even have a place to go."

Durbin and his mother lost more than 50 years of memories and precious items as the fire ravaged their home.

"The clothes we're wearing is what we have. My mom doesn't even have any clothes on," Durbin said. "I went back in there and I opened the door, and the house just blew up. All the smoke turned into flames. The windows blew out, the siding – everything."

Chicago Fire Department

Aline Durbin, Gary Durbin's 83-year-old mother, had been in bed on the first floor. She was awoken by the sound of her neighbor and son kicking the door down – telling her to get out.

"My neighbor is such a nice person - I don't remember who he was - grabbed me and carried me outside," said Aline Durbin.

Wrapped in a blanket, Aline Durbin sat nearby as firefighters entered through the third floor – trying to put the flames out< the roof of her home collapsed in the fire.

"This is really terrible, terrible thing. I just came out of the hospital," she said. "I have rheumatoid arthritis. So for me to be outside is not good."

The Chicago Fire Department said there was significant damage to the back of the Durbins' house – where the fire likely started. It went on to spread quickly to two other houses next door.

"Wood-frame structures like you see close in Chicago neighborhoods typically are real easy for the fire to jump and spread – especially on a windy night like today," said Chicago Fire Department 2nd District Deputy Chief Kelly Burns.

Durbin and his mother will not be able to return home due to the extensive damage. Firefighters said they will have to clear the other two homes affected before those residents will be able to go back inside.

The exact cause of the fire was still under investigation late Friday.

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