A fire in a Lincoln Park high-rise that lacked sprinklers killed two elderly residents Friday evening.
Emergency personnel responded to the fire shortly after it was reported and extinguished it by 8 o’clock. The blaze was confined to one apartment on the northwest side of the building.
The 42-story building, adjacent to the northern end of Lincoln Park, is a pre-ordinance structure, lacking in modern emergency notification equipment, said Fire Commissioner Raymond Orozco. No public address system existed to warn residents and it lacked an enunciation system, which gives the status of building-wide alarms. The building's only fire sprinklers were in the trash chutes.
Around 75 residents huddled in the lobby of nearby 2650 W. Lakeview, listening to a property manager discuss future evacuation plans. The building is operated by Sudler Property Management.
Some complained that fire alarms failed to sound in the building.
“The elevators were shut down, but no alarms went off on the second floor,” said Paul, who refused to give his last name. Building operators conduct unit-by-unit smoke detector inspections twice a year, ever since a small blaze affected the building between two and four years ago.
Linda Maccarty, a long-time resident, said she saw the fire’s residue blowing past her 22nd floor window when the fire started.
“I saw big embers flying out (of the building),” she said. “I grabbed my coat and my keys, felt the door to see if it was hot, and left.”
Some inhabitants, including a mother and four children, neighbors of Maccarty, decided to stay, despite the threat.
At 2650 W. Wrightwood, there appeared to be confusion about the existence of an evacuation plan. Maccarty said such plans were distributed, but were never followed up on.
“They hand out evacuation plans, but there are no fire drills.”