LOGAN SQUARE — Residents and those who work in the neighborhood suspect that the woman who was killed and the two men injured with her in a fire late Thursday were squatting in the building at 3409 W. Armitage Ave. that had been vacant for a while.
The woman died and the two men were sent to the hospital after the fire in the vacant building around 11:40 p.m., according to Officer Ronald Gaines, a police spokesman.
After the fire was put out, the woman was found unresponsive in the building and was taken to Norwegian Hospital, Gaines said. The woman, whose identity was unknown, was pronounced dead at the hospital at 12:34 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.
The two men were taken to Stroger Hospital, the Fire Department said, one in critical condition and one in stable condition.
The Fire Department said the fire occurred on the second floor of the building, which had been vacant for six months. Fire department spokesman Larry Langford said a burning mattress started the fire.
Several people walking near the building Friday morning said this wasn't the first fire in the building this year.
The Chicago Department of Buildings conducted an inspection of the building on July 21 and found six building code violations, department spokeswoman Mimi Simon said. The case was pending in building court, she said.
Sylvester Windfield, who works across the street, is among a few people who said homeless people can often be found in front of the vacant building. In fact, he said he sees at least two homeless people in front of the building every day.
He said the victims of the fire were most likely homeless.
A nearby resident Jared McCann, 37, also suspects the victim were homeless. He said he only saw smoke and no flames, and that the building looked worse than he expected.
"It's not safe for the homeless people, but I feel completely safe in my neighborhood," McCann said while pushing his 2-year-old son Nico in a stroller towards their apartment at St. Louis Avenue and Armitage Avenue.
Frank Villagas, manager of Armitage Produce, 3334 W. Armitage Ave., happened to be off work Thursday evening so he didn't witness the fire firsthand.
"A lot of crazy sh-- happens on this street .... It's crazy," Villagas said.
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