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Whiting building destroyed by fire Sunday night

Whiting firefighters use ladder battle fire 119th Sheridan Sunday Jan. 20 2013. | Guy Rhodes~ for Sun-Times Media

Whiting firefighters use a ladder to battle a fire at 119th and Sheridan Sunday Jan. 20, 2013. | Guy Rhodes~ for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 22, 2013 6:32AM



WHITING — More than four hours after it started, firefighters were still trying to put out a blaze that hollowed out a three-story shop and apartment building in downtown Whiting Sunday night.

No one was injured in the blaze, and there were no reports of smoke inhalation among the firefighters from Whiting, Hammond and East Chicago.

Whiting Police Chief Steve Miller said police received a call around 4 p.m. about a fire at Lubia’s Dresses, located at 1401 119th St. Police started to evacuate the apartment tenants and shut down a stretch of 119th Street to traffic. One tenant said he started to see smoke coming up through the floors of his second-story apartment.

A nearby business owner lauded the efforts of the police.

“If not for the quick action of the police, the tenants might not have gotten out safely,” said Dee Young, owner of Chrislove Collectibles, “Within a minute of their exit, the windows of the shop blew out.”

Once the windows shattered, the building became engulfed, Young said.

The Red Cross and the North Township Trustee’s Office sent workers to the Whiting Community Center to help displaced residents find a place to stay and five residents were seeking help there.

Miller said that firefighters would likely be at the scene all night, trying to put out hotspots. Miller said the fire didn’t spread into the building immediately to the east of it, but that building did sustain some smoke damage. The cause of the fire has not been determined, Miller said.

Two firefighters perched on cranes directed hoses into the husk of the building and another pair of firefighters directed a hose from the street into the shop. Smoke billowed out of the building, but there were still flames visible from inside the shop and near the now caved-in roof. With freezing cold temperatures, Miller said that it proved difficult for firefighters to turn their hoses back on if they turn them off at any point.



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