Scarlet severely damaged by fire; community offers support

Sat. February 28, 2009 12:00 AM by Kevin Wayne

friday's fire severely damages scarlet

photo credit // barry freiman
Chicago, IL - An extra-alarm fire in the Lakeview neighborhood has severely damaged the three-story building that houses Scarlet Bar on the North Halsted strip of Boystown.

At one point over 100 firefighters battled the 2-11 alarm blaze that erupted at about 7:15 a.m. on Friday in the commercial and residential building at 3320 N. Halsted. Chicago Fire Department spokesman Quention Curtis said there were heavy flames throughout the building.

Paul D. Cannella, Scarlet co-owner, tells that the fire appears to have started on the second floor and spread to the third floor. "While there was little or no fire damage to Scarlet, the water damage was quite extensive," explained Cannella.'s Bill Pritchard was on the scene at Friday morning and reported seeing considerable amount of water pouring from the first level which is home to Scarlet.

There were no reports of injuries and five people escaped from the building unharmed.

"Everyone got out of the building and is safe, so the rest can all be replaced," said Cannella.

Canella and his business partners are waiting on final word from the Chicago Fire Department, but tell there is a "high probability" that the building is not salvageable.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Five adults have been left displaced from the building, which was left devastated with its roof partially collapsed.

Chicago's gay and lesbian community and business owners along the North Halsted strip continue to offer an outpouring of support for Scarlet and the tenants, including Scarlet's General Manager Dusty Hoffman.

Geno Zack, owner of Cocktail, has planned a fundraiser for Monday night at Cocktail, 3359 N. Halsted, with half of the proceeds to be donated to those displaced and to the Scarlet staff that lost their jobs. (Event Details)

"If there are job openings in the community, nothing would make me happier than helping my team move their lives forward," said Cannella.

The fire also displaced one of The Lucky Horseshoe bartenders, Joe Tosch, who lost all of his belongings. The Lucky Horseshoe is accepting donations for Tosch.

Scarlet opened in November 2007 in the space previously inhabited by Gentry on Halsted.

Cannella says Scarlet will be back.

"The saying of the day yesterday was an old rugby quote," said Cannella. "That which does not kill me, only makes me stronger."