The fire began at 3330 N. Clark Street — a building that features a bar, Roadhouse 66 Chicago, Thai Classic and hookah bar Samah. Fire Department spokesman Mark Nielsen claimed the blaze began in Samah and was reported by Roadhouse around 5 pm.
After spending over two hours fighting the flames, firefighters finally struck it out. Ambulances rushed to the area around 9 pm following the building’s partial collapse, trapping some firefighters inside. They were eventually rescued without injury, fire officials said.
“The fact that the building to the south… this big three-and-a-half story frame is still there is amazing,” Nielsen commented after his staff prevented the fire from spreading. He claims he was initially pessimistic.
“When I pulled up to see the amount of fire and the amount of smoke that was involved in this fire, I thought for sure we were going to lose a couple of buildings. Probably three, maybe four and we got the resources here to stop that,” he said. “I can’t say enough good about the firefighters and their efforts to save that frame.”
Windward Board shop employee Lee Larkins recorded the blaze and an explosion that knocked two firefighters from their feet.
“I ran out and there was smoke coming out of the hookah lounge. Eventually more and more smoke came out. There was probably at least four fire trucks that came out and eventually more smoke started coming out the back,” Larkins said. “They worked their way into the front throwing chairs out against the front window of the lounge. They were just trying to put it out.”
Speaking about the explosion, Larkins said, “I guess there was a pocket [of smoke] in there or something, and a backdraft happened. It just shot out flames and smoke,”
Larkins also saw a man begging for firefighters to rescue his dog from the apartment next door to the fire. Fortunately, they managed to save the dog and return it to its owner, Larkins confirmed.
Stacey Bridges, who lives near the area, said the smoke was so strong he initially thought one of his neighbors’ homes was on fire.
“I saw a woman from one of the stores and she was sitting on on the curbs crying. I felt bad because I know what it’s like to lose everything you own,” Bridges said. “That smell you never forget, It stays with you forever.”