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Northwest suburban Chicago building deemed a total loss after fire

All residents accounted for after massive fire in Mount Prospect, Illinois
All residents accounted for after massive fire in Mount Prospect, Illinois 01:53

MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. (CBS) -- It took more than 100 firefighters braving the extreme temperatures for hours to put out an extra-alarm fire that burned through a 36-unit Mount Prospect apartment complex Monday night.

A day later, residents still could not get back into the building at 1852 W. Palm Dr., near Golf Road in the Orion ParkView Apartments complex.

Mount Prospect Deputy Fire Chief Tom Wang said about 100 residents were displaced. Some hopeful residents returned Tuesday to see if any of their belongings could be salvaged, but it could still be days before the building is cleared for residents to be able to re-enter the fire-ravaged structure.

"We are trying to get inside, trying to see how bad the damage is, see if we can rescue anything," said Orion ParkView resident Jonathan Pitalua, "at least some toys and clothing for my son, maybe the dog crate for our Rottweiler."

Around 6:40 p.m. Monday, residents said they saw flames shooting out of the building's Mansard roof.

Pitalua and his almost-2-year-old son were on the balcony when he saw the fire.

"I look up, and there's a fire on the roof," Pitalua said.

He pulled the fire alarm and had time to grab nothing but his son, a towel, and the family dog. Fortunately, all 100 or so residents were quickly evacuated and were accounted for.

All units of Mount Prospect, Illinois building believed a total loss after fire 02:01

But several pets were missing, including two cats—one named Chicken—rescued by firefighters more than 20 hours after the fire broke out.

"Sucks," said Pitalua. "We lost a lot of memories; lost a lot of things that can't be replaced."

The building did have smoke detectors and sprinklers, but they weren't enough to save it.

"There's sprinklers in the hallway, but because the fire initially started above the hallway, it was probably ineffective," said Wang.

Wang said the fire likely started in a small attic space, but the cause of the fire was still under investigation late Tuesday.

CBS News Chicago asked if everything was up to code.

"If anything isn't, it would have been earmarked and followed up with," said Wang, "so as far as I know, everything was up to code."

The structure needs to be assessed by building engineers before anyone can enter.

All 36 units are expected to be a total loss. The cause of the fire remained under investigation late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the extreme heat has made it harder for the residents without a place to sleep a night later. It also made it even tougher for firefighters to extinguish the flames. 

"Another reason why there were so many that were brought to the scene—it helped relieve the crews continuously so they're not getting overheated or overworked," Wang said.

Wang said the focus now is helping the residents in this extreme heat.

"The heat doesn't help, but people are giving us ice, water, ice cream," said Pitalua. "There was someone going around with popsicles last night."

Fortunately, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago was also on the scene Tuesday, helping the displaced.

The Mount Prospect Fire Department is asking that people hoping to bring donations not bring them to the scene of the fire, but instead to the second floor of the village hall, at 50 S. Emerson St. The Mount Prospect Human Services Department called for people to contribute several specific items.

Village of Mount Prospect
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