With a loud bang and bright flash, a stormy Friday night became terrifying for residents at the Arden of Oakbrook apartment complex.
A large fire in a four-story building of the complex, located at 18W070 Royce Blvd. in Oakbrook Terrace, remains under investigation by the DuPage County Fire Investigation Task Force.
A letter from the leasing administrator to residents said the fire started after the building was struck by lightning.
More than 100 people were displaced and half the 300 units were “compromised,” according to York Center Fire Protection District Chief Richard Sanborn. He said damage included the collapse of ceilings and walls due to the weight of the water.
“We were in bed and it was raining,” resident Chinitha Johnson told ABC 7 Chicago. “It was normal thunder, and … we heard the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard in my life. My husband said ‘that sounded close,’ and within like a minute a woman screamed ‘fire.'”
Sanborn said Sunday no one was injured in the fire reported at about 11:42 p.m. Friday by two people who said they heard a loud bang and saw a large flash. Three firefighters were taken to the hospital with heat exhaustion.
Nothing was showing from the building when firefighters arrived Friday night, Sanborn said. They began to see the flames when they entered the building.
“Conditions changed,” Sanborn said. “It became overwhelming.”
Sanborn said the fire started in the attic in the middle of the wood-frame building, which has sprinklers. The Red Cross continues to help residents affected by the fire.
Assisting fire units were released at 8 a.m. Saturday, but firefighters stayed until about noon to douse hot spots.
Sanborn credited West Chicago Fire Protection District officials for providing drones to help locate hot spots that weren’t visible.
“The drone assistance was phenomenal,” he said.
— Daily Herald staff writer Susan Sarkauskas contributed to this report.