House Fire

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Fifteen Rockford residents are homeless for the holidays after fire sweeps through a Westside apartment building. It happened just before 7 a.m. Tuesday in the 1100 block of Kishwaukee Street.

Fortunately no one was injured in the fire; however there isn't much Christmas cheer for the three families now homeless on Christmas Eve.

"All I heard was a loud pop and I grabbed the kids and ran out the door. I tried to put it out but there was just too much smoke," said Jason Wienk, who lived in the basement apartment.

Wienk and his family awoke to see their furnace on fire and smoke filling their apartment.

"My mom woke me up and grabbed the baby and my dad grabbed my hand and started running," said Brianna Golden, Wienk’s daughter.

Fire officials said a gas-fired furnace in the basement of the building ignited the blaze, which completely destroyed the Wienk's apartment and all of their belongings.

"Everything's gone. All the kid's clothes. The baby's diapers, formula. My glasses. I’m legally blind without my glasses," Wienk said.

Building residents tried to salvage what they could picking up the pieces on a cold Christmas Eve morning.

"15 people in a building like that, an older building and no one was hurt. We did pretty good," said 55 District Chief Jerry Wiltfang of the Rockford Fire Department.

While Wienk feels lucky to survive, he can't stop worrying about what's next.

"My biggest concern now is being out on the streets. Homeless with three kids," he said.

If you would like to help the victims of this fire call the Red Cross at 963-8471 or the Wienk family at 964-3395.

The Wienk's said they're in great need of baby supplies and clothing.

Fire officials said the building was just inspected a few weeks ago. Structure and property damage is estimated at $80,000.