Big fire ruins Back of the Yards businesses Joshua James

April 5, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — A big fire broke out in a Chicago appliance store and spread to four other buildings Thursday night. Five ambulances were rushed to the scene.

The fire happened in the 4800-block of South Ashland.

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Big fire ruins Back of the Yards businesses

No injuries were reported, so those ambulances were not needed.

But the wall of flames destroyed a string of businesses in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. From the air, you could see flames shooting from the row of buildings.

“Because of the age of the structure and the wind conditions, the fire spread quickly across the structure,” said Chicago firefighter Timothy Sampey,

One of the businesses, Garza Appliance Retail, belonged to Sergio Garza.

“My brother called me, and said, ‘We got a fire in the store.’ When I came to the store, I saw a lot of smoke,” said Garza.

Garza said his brother and another employee were inside the store at the time. Both of them escaped, but the store is ruined.

The fire spread down the block, burning business by business, including a restaurant, a pizza place, and the Ashland Convenience and Liquor Store. Two doors down from Garza Appliance, that building’s owner was grateful workers there escaped too.

“As long as nobody got hurt, right? Everything could be replaced,” said building owner Jamil Ayesh.

No one was injured, but the fire now means some employees are out of work.

Garza, however, is looking ahead and trying to be hopeful.

“We’re going to start another place,” Garza said. “Everything is going to be okay.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


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This blog and its accompanying Twitter account have been established as social media learning tools for the Internal Communications and Employee Engagement class at Columbia College Chicago. Through this blog, we will share our observations about current events, change management and employee communications theory, and the application of social media in shaping employee engagement.
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