Cats knocking over a space heater may have caused the two-flat fire at 625 Harlem Ave. around 5:50 a.m., Feb. 25, police said. Firefighters shut down traffic on Harlem Avenue for an hour right at the I-290 entrance ramps during morning rush hour.
A passing motorist on I-290 reported smoke coming out of an apartment building. Fire departments from River Forest, Oak Park, North Riverside, Maywood, Berwyn and Cicero responded. Dispatchers reported “heavy smoke” coming out of a second floor window.
According to police, two residents who lived on the ground floor were removed from the building safely. They told police no one lived upstairs except four cats, who died in the fire. Police reported finding an overturned space heater in the second floor unit, tipped onto its front. The fire was out by 6:25 a.m., said Village Administrator Tim Gillian.