Firefighter fatally injured battling blaze at Lincoln Station

Chicago Fire Department personnel mourn outside Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center after firefighter Andrew Price, 39, died Monday morning battling a fire in Lincoln Park.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

A Chicago firefighter died Monday morning after battling an extra-alarm fire in Lincoln Park, falling four stories through a skylight shaft after helping warn students who lived in the burning building to get out.

“He’s risking his life to save me, he doesn’t have to do that, as much as that is his job, he still didn’t have to do what he did,” said Sean Graney, a Northwestern University master’s student who lives in the building. 

“It’s just really sad for me to know that someone passed away saving my life, saving all of these other people’s lives.”

Firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price was on the roof of the four-story building in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue opening holes for ventilation when he fell through the shaft of the skylight, landing on the basement floor, according to officials. The building houses the Lincoln Station restaurant on its first floor and apartments on floors above.

Price, 39, was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he died of “significant injuries,” Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said standing beside his emergency room doctors Monday morning. 

Nance-Holt said she knew Price from working out with him.

“We all knew Drew,” the fire commissioner said. “Drew worked out. Drew was a health nut. [He was] loved by so many. He will be missed by all.” 

Andrew Price

Chicago Fire Department

‘Visibility may have been the issue’

Fire officials were still talking with the other firefighters who were on the scene to get a better idea of what happened on Monday, but department spokesman Larry Langford said it appears that Price fell when his vision was impaired fighting the blaze.

“He just did not see where his footing was, and the visibility may have been the issue here, but everything points to the fact that it’s an accident due to not being able to see,” Langford said.

When crews first spotted Price in the building, he was trapped but responsive, according to his battalion chief. Firefighters had to make a hole in a wall to bring him out. 

About 150 firefighters were on the scene. No one else was injured. Langford said the alarm came in shortly before 6 a.m., and the fire was believed to have started in a kitchen, though it was not clear which one. The Office of Fire Investigation is still investigating, but Langford said foul play is not suspected. It was too early to know how or why the fire started. 

‘He was as sweet as can be’

Price joined the department in 2009 and was assigned to Engine 55 and Truck 44 for the last decade.

“He was a lovely man,” his battalion chief, Michael McCormack, said. “He was as sweet as can be. He took extremely good care of himself and his family. He was extremely healthy. He was a light of sunshine.”

Langford said he didn’t know Price personally, but he was known as a “funny guy” who was a “very caring, hard worker.”

“He did a lot of good at the academy, as far as an instructor is concerned. To be an instructor at the academy is going a little bit above and beyond,” Langford said.

Price is the fourth Chicago Fire Department member to die in the line of duty this year. 

“We all love what we do, and we all know when we go to work it may be our last. We all realize that, but I think having all the members behind me, our command staff, the members of the fire department with me, the hugs we share with each other, we work through our grief,” Nance-Holt said. 

Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt speaks to reporters outside Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price died after battling a Monday morning blaze in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

About 100 Chicago police officers and firefighters gathered at the Cook County medical examiner’s office Monday afternoon to say a final goodbye to Price. 

In a statement, Mayor Brandon Johnson expressed his condolences. 

“Our collective hearts are heavy this morning as we mourn the passing of firefighter Andrew Price, who has fallen in the line of duty battling a fire in Lincoln Park,” the statement said. “Andrew gave his life in service to the City of Chicago, taking his position at the front lines of a threat to our safety and community. He made the ultimate sacrifice to protect those in harm’s way — a debt we can never repay.” 

Chicago Fire Department personnel mourn outside Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price, died of “significant injuries” he suffered while battling a fire in Lincoln Park.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Firefighter/EMT Andrew Price transferred from Illinois Masonic to the CCME. Our thanks to the outstanding efforts of the Emergency Department Team at Illinois Masonic for their tireless effort to save the life of our member.

— Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) November 13, 2023

‘There’s a fire, fire, get out!’

The building is home to about 30 people, most of whom are DePaul University students, said Graney, the Northwestern University master’s student who lives there. 

Residents reported waking up about 5:40 a.m. to black smoke filling the hallways.

“I abruptly wake up to banging on my door and the power’s completely off, it’s pitch black,” Graney said.

He jumped out of bed and briefly spotted someone wearing a white shirt at his door before Graney, who lives on the top floor, and others began making their way downstairs.

“I opened the door and it was just full of smoke. … The hallway’s full of smoke,” Graney said. 

Building residents speak with Chicago Fire Department personnel after a Monday morning blaze in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park. Firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price, 39, died of “significant injuries” after battling the blaze.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

He knew there were two ways in and out — one leads to a back alley and the other to the front. 

“At first, we were trying to go through the back alley, not knowing where the fire was, what was going on, and we could not breathe, we couldn’t see, anything,” Graney said. 

“I didn’t really know what to do, but I just went the other way,” Graney said. “We sprinted the other way, we get down to the first level, we see a firefighter I think that’s the third floor, he’s like: “There’s a fire, fire, get out! Come on! come on!”’

Maddie Carter, a DePaul student, said she started pounding on all the doors on her floor when she realized what was happening.

“I woke up because I heard some noise in the back alley, and I could smell smoke, and I looked and I could see black smoke coming into the apartment, and so I woke up my roommate and I pounded on the doors on the top floor,” Carter said. 

Building owner cited for 16 alleged violations in 2017

Lucy Egan, a DePaul student, said she and other residents have had a number of maintenance issues while living there, with some taking more than a year to be fixed.

County records show the building is owned by Joseph L. Grossman, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

The city has sued the building owner of 2430 N. Lincoln Ave. three times since 2011. 

A 2018 lawsuit against the owner over a number of code violations was dismissed at the first hearing when the building was found to be in full compliance, according to the City Law Department. 

The department did not immediately share details about the other litigation.

The residential property failed at least two inspections since 2006, according to Department of Buildings records. In the last failed inspection, in 2019, the owner was cited for un-permitted work on its sign reading “Lincoln Station Bar Grill.”

In 2017, the owner was cited for 16 alleged violations that included not maintaining the parapet wall from cracks or defects, having washed out mortar and shifting stones on the roof, keeping the chimney in an unsafe working condition and having rusted window lintels.

On Oct. 31, the restaurant portion on the first floor passed inspection by the Chicago Fire Department, which handles commercial inspections, Langford said. 

At about 2:30 p.m. Monday, Benn Hamm, the owner of the bar and property manager, was monitoring residents re-entering the building to retrieve their valuables.

Hamm told them the building currently has no water, power, electric or gas, and is not inhabitable. They were told they’d be able to return later in the week to pack up more of their things, but may not be able to move back in. Residents reported that the floors were covered in soot, and the building still had a strong smell, though some apartments seemed undamaged.

In a statement, DePaul said it was assisting 25 of their students and two from Northwestern with food and shelter at the university’s Ray Meyer Fitness Center. The American Red Cross, was also helping the students with prescription and clothing needs.

Dorothy Hernandez contributed to this report. 

Chicago Fire Department personnel investigate after a Monday morning blaze in the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park. Firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price, 39, who joined the department in 2009, was taken from the fire to Illinois Masonic where he died of his “significant injuries,” authorities said.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Preliminary reports on the death of firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price indicate that he fell when his vision was impaired battling the fire.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. DePaul and Northwestern students living on the upper floors were told they can’t return to their apartments as the utilities have been turned off.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago Fire Department personnel mourn firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago Fire Department personnel mourn the death of firefighter Andrew “Drew” Price on Monday outside Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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