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Massive Fire Destroys Commercial Buildings in Bronzeville

By Quinn Ford | July 2, 2013 8:25am | Updated on July 2, 2013 1:37pm
 Firefighters put out a large fire in the 300 block of East Pershing Road early Tuesday. One person was taken to the hospital, according to the Chicago Fire Department.
FIrefighters Battle Blaze In Bronzeville
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BRONZEVILLE — A large fire tore through two commercial buildings in Bronzeville overnight, destroying at least four businesses in the process.

Firefighters were called about 11 p.m. Monday after someone smelled smoke inside the Baba's Steak Unlimited restaurant at 343 E. Pershing Road, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

The block also housed a wireless store, a night club and a thrift store that had been preparing to open. All the businesses suffered extensive damage.

During the course of the fire, one building's roof collapsed, and the blaze was upgraded to a 3-11 alarm before 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.

One person was taken to Mercy Hospital for minor injuries, and the fire was put out before 4 a.m., according to the fire department.

Firefighters were on the scene packing up their gear about 6 a.m. Tuesday. Later, city workers were on the scene cleaning up piles of ash from the street.

One of the affected businesses was "Joe's Turnshop," a thrift store preparing to open, according to the owner's son, Rance, who declined to give his last name.

Rance said his father had worked at a variety of businesses on the block for the past 25 years and had finally gotten licensed and zoning approved to open his own store.

But standing across the street from the fire-ravaged buildings Tuesday, Rance said that would not be happening any time soon.

"It's done," he said. "The building has a sun roof now."

Wilma Sargent, who works at WP Taxes in the 300 block of East Pershing, said she she hopes the building would be quickly rebuilt.

"It's open for developers," she said. "Hopefully it doesn't end up another empty lot like we have all over the South Side."

Sargent pointed out if Baba's Steak Unlimited is torn down because of the fire, all four corners at the intersection of Pershing Road and Martin Luther King Drive would be vacant.