Fire rips through Lakeview building that houses Scarlet

Fri. February 27, 2009 12:00 AM by News Staff

fire in lakeview building that houses scarlet bar

photo credit // bill pritchard
Chicago, IL - Over 100 firefighters were battling an extra-alarm blaze this morning at a commercial and residential building in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.

The 2-11 alarm fire erupted at about 7:15 a.m. in the building that houses Scarlet Bar in the 3300 block of North Halsted Street.

At 8:15 a.m., Chicago Fire Department spokesman Quention Curtis said there were heavy flames throughout the building and that firefighters were working to protect the neighboring buildings on either side of the burning building which includes the offices for Equality Illinois.'s Bill Pritchard on the scene at 8:30 a.m. reports seeing some flames and quite a bit of smoke coming from the top of the building at 3320 N. Halsted.

Pritchard also reports seeing a considerable amount of water pouring from the the first level which houses Scarlet.

Barry Freiman, an eyewitness, tells "the fire was confined mainly to the two upper floors with the bar destroyed mainly by the water damage in extinguishing the fire."

It's unclear where the fire started in the building, or if it had working smoke detectors. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Five people escaped unharmed.

"Everyone got out of the building and is safe, so the rest can all be replaced," said Paul D. Cannella, Scarlet co-owner.

Scarlet Bar is a popular gay bar in Chicago's gay and lesbian neighborhood known as Boystown. The bar's name comes from the 1920s, when members of the gay community wore a scarlet article of clothing to identify themselves to others in the community.

Prior to Scarlet, the Halsted Street building housed Gentry.

Updates to this article can be found here. and Bill Pritchard contributed to this story.