All Oak Park Fire Department personnel were called to Lake Street on the morning of Nov. 23 to battle a fire that is believed to have started in the building housing Delia’s Kitchen, 1034 Lake St. The fire department was alerted to the fire at 9:39 a.m.
No injuries were reported, according to Oak Park spokesman David Powers, but people have been evacuated from the restaurant and neighboring businesses, including Classic Cinemas Lake Theatre and Chase Bank. Residents of the two apartments above Delia’s Kitchen were also evacuated. Several blocks of the busy downtown street were blocked off to traffic as smoke consumed the area.
It is unclear if the fire started in the restaurant or in the building’s upper floors. Television news helicopters could be seen circling over Lake Street.
Fire fighters knocked the windows out of the top floor of the Delia’s Kitchen building, which was drenched in water, but smoke continued to billow throughout the morning.
“The amount of smoke is outrageous. It’s even billowing into our building at 1010 [Lake St.],” said Shanon Williams, Downtown Oak Park (DTOP) executive director.
The flames and smoke were also visible from the Book Table, 1045 Lake St, according to the bookstore’s co-owner Jason Smith.
“This has not stopped at all,” Smith said mid-morning.
While Williams did not know the details of how the fire started or the extent of its damage, she contacted DTOP board members and was working to make sure everyone was alright.
“I’m worried about the neighboring businesses with the smoke,” Williams said.
Classic Cinemas CEO Chris Johnson told Wednesday Journal it was too early to determine if the Lake Theatre had sustained any damage. One of the movie theater’s rooftop heating and cooling units may have caught fire and the roof appears to have been damaged as a result of the fire next door, said Johnson.
“It looks like we’re structurally sound, but we’ll wait for the people who know what they’re doing to verify that,” he said.
Johnson added that the fire department had cut power to the area and that it looked as if the fire had been contained by late morning.
Classic Cinemas was not planning to open on Tuesday and it is unclear if the theater will resume operations this week. Thanksgiving week is famous for huge box office sales and the Lake Theatre is no different.
“Tuesdays are our big day for $5 Tuesdays and the kids are off school tomorrow, plus new movies are coming out,” said Johnson. “It’s kind of a bummer, but I’m just glad nobody’s hurt.”