A Rogers Park couple are trying to rebuild their lives, and find their lost pets, in the wake of an extra-alarm fire that left them homeless.
Nicholas Hayes and Andrew Breen lived in the building on the 1700 Block of West Estes Avenue. Breen had already left for work when the fire broke out in the early morning hours of Jan. 11, Hayes said.
After noticing the smoke, "I immediately dropped to the floor, which was already hot to the touch," he added.
Hayes was able to escape unharmed, but the couple's apartment and belongings were destroyed, and their two cats went missing. Friends of Breen and Hayes have established an online fundraiser to help the couple resettle.
"We fortunately had renters insurance, so our insurance company paid for a hotel, Hayes said. "Some of our neighbors were not so lucky."
Among those were the Elaly family, who were settled from Syria, he added. They'd been in their apartment for a year and also lost everything. Syrian Community Network set up an online fundraising campaign on their behalf.
Fire officials suspect arson as the cause of the fire, according to reports. Ald. Joe Moore told DNAinfo that investigators found a fire accelerant on the wall of a stairwell that collapsed in the fire.
The online fundraiser to help Hayes and Breen is at www.gofundme.com/andrewandnick. The fundraiser to aid the Elaly family is at www.gofundme.com/b8xurnbn .