WEST LOOP — A fire on the top floor of the members-only West Loop club and lounge Soho House filled the neighborhood with smoke and forced members to evacuate the building Friday afternoon.
Witnesses said the fire started shortly after 2 p.m. The grease fire started in a top-floor kitchen, Near West Police Commander Ed Kulbida said. Witnesses said about 100 people had to evacuate the club, but no one was apparently injured.
Armando Chacon, a West Loop real estate agent, said he was at meeting on the sixth floor when it got so hot inside that they went outside to the adjoining roof-deck pool area.
"It was really hot in the little area so we went outside," he said. "A few minutes later I see some really big smoke fly through over the deck area. It was really thick."
He and others didn't immediately see flames so they weren't initially worried and they went back inside. But then they were told by Soho staff they needed to leave.
"Staff came out and said there is a small fire on the roof and we have to evacuate the building," Chacon said.
The guests quickly went downstairs to Green Street, and a five fire trucks arrived.
Chacon said things seemed to be under control by 2:45 p.m. or so.
West Loop resident Moshe Tamssot said fire crews responded again to the club around 11 p.m. after reports of some smoldering, and that parts of Soho House could be closed for awhile due to significant water damage.
"Water damage to the 5th floor was described as extensive," Tamssot, a West Loop resident, posted on a community Facebook page after visiting the scene. "That floor contains a large and very valuable art collection, Members lounge/work area, and a restaurant. ... In these types of fires, water does more damage than the fire itself."
Police said there was heavy water damage to the fifth floor of the club.
Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) was at scene and said he was thankful no one was injured.
"The only hard thing was getting people out of there because they didn't want to give up their drinks," he said.
Kulbida said fire crews were working to determine the extent of the damage to the club, which remained closed Friday afternoon. Soho staff was working to move guests staying in the club's hotel to other locations.
As firefighters worked the scene, police closed a stretch of Green Street from Randolph to Madison Friday.
Soho house Chicago evacuated bc if fire on roof pic.twitter.com/Av2AlSJkyo— Mia Saini (@miasaini) June 16, 2017
Soho House West Loop roof top on fire. People evacuating pic.twitter.com/LDZBBNz20n— Honeymoon Trippers (@HoneymoonTrippe) June 16, 2017
Tamssot urged residents to support Soho House as it works to rebuild.
"I've long admired the events that they've organized, the diversity of their Membership, and their openness to forward thinking ideas," Tamssot said. "Soho House has breathed new life into the Fulton Market District ... So once again, let's all be grateful that no one was hurt, that the damage can and will be repaired, and that this disruption can be used to embrace all Residents of the Fulton Market District and Greater West Loop, and that all Residents and Businesses can come together and embrace Soho House and its members in the same way."