An apartment building on South Kenilworth Avenue near Madison Street caught on fire Wednesday night, badly charring the back side of a building that had just been rehabbed.

Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley said police officers responded to 438 S. Kenilworth Ave. with fire officials just before 10 p.m., where they found the rear, east side of the building ablaze.

The entire back of the building caught on fire, according to neighbors, police and fire officials. Fire departments from Berwyn, North Riverside, Cicero, River Forest, Elmwood Park and Maywood were called in to help.

Thursday afternoon, many of the apartments’ kitchens simply appeared to be melted.

Neighbors told police and Wednesday Journal that a cardboard box filled with debris was sitting in the walkway between 438 S. Kenilworth and a neighboring building on Madison. That box caught on fire, and apparently spread to the Kenilworth building from there.

No injuries were reported, although two neighboring buildings were evacuated. Tanksley said everyone evacuated was able to find shelter elsewhere.

The building had just been rehabbed, and Oak Park Fire Department Deputy Chief Kenneth Klemm said tenants had moved into two of the apartment’s six units just this week.

Two people allegedly lived in a second floor apartment, and one man lived on the third floor. All three escaped the building unharmed.

Klemm said the department had finished its on-scene investigation, but had not released the results yet.

Insurance officials and the building’s landlord were on the scene Thursday going through the wreckage and determining the extent of the damage.

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Ben Meyerson

Ben was Wednesday Journal's crime, parks, and River Forest reporter, until he kept bugging us enough to promote him. Now he's managing two of Wednesday Journal's sister papers in the city, Chicago Journal...