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Shae Daher's home is uninhabitable following fire, smoke and water damage from a blaze that hit three neighbors' homes on the same block. Credit: Provided/ Ecoglobalsociety

JEFFERSON PARK — A Jefferson Park family has launched a GoFundMe after a fire on their block displaced them last week.

Shae Daher said his family “lost literally everything” in a May 21 fire that ravaged three homes, displaced two families and killed one homeowner's dog, fire officials and a neighbor said.

The fire is believed to have started around 7 p.m. in the back of the home at 5249 N. Laramie Ave., Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford said. Heavy winds caused the fire to spread to the homes on either side, Langford said.

The fire started around 7 p.m. May 21 and spread to two other homes. Credit: Chicago Fire Department/ Ecoglobalsociety

Daher, who lived at 5247 N. Laramie with his wife and 4-year-old daughter, said everything is “either burnt, smoke damaged or water damaged.” The home is uninhabitable, and the house will likely need to be completely gutted and renovated, a process that could take up to 18 months, Daher said.

Daher and his family are staying with friends while they look for a more permanent housing.

A GoFundMe set up by Daher's father had raised over $11,000 as of Tuesday night. The fundraiser has a goal of $20,000. The family is also accepting donated household items and furniture. To make a non-monetary donation, contact Daher's father here.

Losing Everything

Daher and his daughter were home watching television when the fire started, he said.

“We heard what sounded like a loud explosion,” Daher said. “I went to the back porch and I looked to my left and saw that my neighbors' house was just shooting flames. It wasn't like a small fire, it was violent.”

Daher rushed his daughter out of the house and had a neighbor stay with her while he went back into the house to rescue his cat, he said.

“I saw that my porch ceiling was starting to catch [fire], so I tried to douse it with a fire extinguisher, which stopped it in its tracks for about two seconds,” Daher said. “I watched my ComEd service line catch fire and start to spark. That’s when I knew I needed to get out of there.”

The Dahers have lived at on Laramie for five years. It was the family's first house, where their daughter took her first steps and where Daher and his father spent years cultivating a lush backyard garden. The heat from the fire caused every plant in the backyard to wilt and die, Daher said.

The back half of the house caved in and is “charred beyond recognition,” Daher said.

“This house was everything to us,” Daher said. “But my wife and kid are pretty traumatized by the whole experience, and I don’t know if it will ever feel like home again.”

Damage inside the Dahers' Jefferson Park home has made it uninhabitable. Credit: Provided/ Ecoglobalsociety

Kim Wilson, the owner of 5249 N. Laramie Ave., said her 91-year-old father was also home when the fire started. Neighbors helped Wilson’s father evacuate, but her dog was killed, she said.

Wilson previously told Block Club that she has good insurance and is confident she eventually will be able to return home.

The third home also had extensive damage, but is still habitable. Those residents could not immediately be reached for comment.

Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.


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