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Albany Park’s Twisted Hippo Brewery and Ultimate Ninjas Gym Destroyed in Massive Fire – NBC Chicago

An additional large fire in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood destroyed two popular businesses Monday morning, collapsing a roof and walls as firefighters said what was left of the structure could soon collapse.

Bricks collapsed onto the sidewalks and street, smashing cars that were parked in the area as a fire ripped through the Twisted Hippo Brewery and Ultimate Ninjas gym, as well as a nearby apartment building in the Northwest neighborhood Side.

The fire burned for hours before being extinguished around 9 a.m., although firefighters were still struggling with hot spots.

First District Chief Thomas Carbonneau said firefighters were not entering buildings Monday morning because the structures were at risk of further collapse, with the front wall of the commercial building still standing.

“If you had a side angle, you could see the wall was already tilted, so that’s the danger,” he said.

The Chicago Building Department is expected at the scene by Monday afternoon, he said.

Firefighters said the fire started around 3:30 a.m. in the 4300 block of North Richmond.

The Chicago Fire Department’s media affairs office said at least one person, a man in his 60s, was taken to Sweden’s Covenant Hospital in critical condition due to smoke inhalation. No other injuries were reported as of 6 a.m. as flames continued to burn.

About 150 firefighters were called to the scene.

The cause of the fire and the building in which the flames originated were not immediately known.

First District Chief Thomas Carbonneau said an investigation is underway to determine where and how the fire was started.

Authorities at the scene said when firefighters arrived the fire was on the second and third floors of an apartment building in the area. Nearby buildings were also in flames.

Ultimate Ninjas, which has multiple locations in the Chicago area, had planned to hold a number of President’s Day camps for kids, according to their website.

Marilee Rutherford, the owner of the Twisted Hippo, said she first learned of a fire near her business when she received a call from her building owner.

“We weren’t on fire until now. I had a weird thought that we might salvage something,” she said. “But it is clear that this will not happen.”

Rutherford said the company uses CO2 and nitrogen and some tanks were stored on a wall that caught fire.

“It’s going to be tough,” she said. “We were lucky to have him.”

The brewery has 12 employees and Rutherford said they have worked hard to adapt and grow after coming through the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was able to do it,” she said. “I think it’s a huge gift.”

Check back for more details on this developing story.



NBC Chicago

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