More than a year after a massive fire destroyed a flea market on Chicago’s West Side, the owners plan to make good on their promise to reopen this weekend.
A giant blaze destroyed the Buyer’s Flea Market, located at 4545 W. Division St. in the city’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, in March 2016.
More than a hundred cars parked on the roof were swallowed by the flames, and vendors, whose merchandise was inside, lost everything.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was called to investigate the blaze, marking the first time the ATF’s National Response Team was called to Chicago. [[371566731, C]]
The ATF ruled the fire accidental, finding that an electrical issue in a vendor’s booth could not be ruled out as the cause.
The blaze caused millions of dollars in damage but the owners vowed early that they would rebuild and reopen – and that time has now come.
“It's been a journey, let me tell you,” owner Greg Morand said. “I've had vendors in tears, coming in just overwhelmed.”
Vendors have been allowed into the new facility, built at the same location, all week to set up for a soft opening this weekend.
“It's exciting—just got email we could set up again—we've been waiting since burned down to start construction,” said vendor Angela Ramirez.
Her family sells jewelry and toys, and they lost nearly everything in the fire.
“I moved back home so I could help pay rent and help with bills,” she said. Now, she and so many others are ready to open for business once again, excited to see fellow vendors and welcome loyal customers for the first time in months on Saturday.
“I'm so excited I'm shaking,” said Debbie Ramirez, another vendor. “I want it to be Saturday already.”
The new building features an elevator to a rooftop parking area and a centralized concession area with restroom facilities.
Admission will be free this weekend for anyone wishing to check out the new space.
If all goes according to plan, the owners said they will plan an official grand opening sometime in the next few weeks.