Chicago

Fire in North Park destroys belongings of some sheltering beneath bridge

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CHICAGO — Several men who sheltered under a bridge in North Park escaped after a fire tore through their living space on Saturday morning.

Several firefighters responded after the fire erupted beneath the bridge on West Foster Avenue near North Kedzie Avenue.,

The men who lived beneath the bridge had collected a lot of things to help them survive, but after the fire, it was all gone.

“I just happened to look out into the yard and I just saw black smoke,” Kathy Nelson, who lives nearby, said.

The bridge does not allow passage over the North Shore channel but offers shelter for several people.

“You know sometimes you’ll see someone there and there’s mattresses and there are clothes hanging to be dried,” Jennifer Conway, who lives nearby, said.

Some of the items under the bridge belong to Robert, who asked to remain anonymous, one of six men who lived under the bridge and escaped Saturday morning’s fire.

“I was sleeping when it, next door to my place where I am sleeping,” Robert said. “I’m lucky enough to get out alive.”

Robert made it back to the bridge on Saturday night to see if any of his belongings were still intact, but it appeared most things were heavily damaged.

“Right now I just have all whatever I wear that’s it, a dollar in my pocket, that’s it. Lucky enough I have a dollar in my pocket,” Robert said.

Residents in the area said this isn’t the first fire at one of the bridge shelters in the area.

“Every once in a while, there’s a fire so it’s kind of scary,” Conway said.

While some people may call the items underneath the bridge junk, they are valuable to Robert, who calls North Park his neighborhood too, and hopes others will show more humanity towards him and others in the midst of hard times.

“Nobody came here to offer oh here maybe at least a phone number for a shelter or offer a shelter or something somewhere,” Robert said. “We’re human still, we’re people still breathing.”

According to the Chicago Fire Department, no one was injured in the fire and the cause remains under investigation.

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