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Mattresses, Furniture Damaged in McKinley Park Warehouse Fire

By Casey Cora | April 17, 2013 6:03pm

MCKINLEY PARK — Crews are working to clean up hundreds of charred and soaked mattresses damaged in a South Side warehouse fire.

Firefighters were called to the building at 3815 S. Ashland Ave. about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday. The blaze broke out on the second floor, which contains the Universal Mattress Company and Spatial Alterations, a custom furniture maker.

It's unclear what caused the fire. The Chicago Fire Department could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Tony DiDomenico, owner of Spatial Alterations, said he was working when flames appeared on the building's southern interior wall. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and started spraying before the sprinkler system activated.

DiDomenico, 35, of Logan Square, escaped the smoky building but left behind lots of raw material and finished pieces that were eventually destroyed.

"It's not as bad as it could've been," he said.

Records show the building is managed by the Lombard-based Avgeris & Associates, the same company that bought the nearby Wrigley Gum building with hopes of turning the land at 35th Street and Ashland Avenue into a retail development.

The Avgeris website lists the four-story, 356,000-square-feet building as up for sale, with the bulk of it dedicated to manufacturing and warehouse space.

JC Avgeris, an asset manager with the company, said water from the extinguishing effort caused ceiling and floor damage, affecting businesses throughout the warehouse, which also includes a pallet manufacturer and an appliance distributor.

Fire officials have previously said they yanked "many" burning mattresses from the building, which is located just a block from a massive January fire that wiped out a vacant warehouse.

That blaze, which drew one of the largest responses in the city's history, left behind a memorable "ice palace," which attracted onlookers and photographer for weeks until it was eventually demolished.

It also destroyed much of the inventory of the Advertising Flag Co. next door. The company has since rebounded.

Mike Olson, owner of the flag manufacturer, said news of the nearby warehouse fire arrived via phone call, similar to how he learned of the January fire.

But unlike that historic blaze, which sent smoke into his building's windows, this time his company was spared.

"I had flashbacks," he said.

Universal Mattress owner Veronica Velazquez could not immediately be reached for comment.