Covenant Minister Barely Escapes Fire

Bea Radakovich’s kitchen was destroyed in the fire. The rest of the apartment suffered extensive smoke damage.

CHICAGO, IL (August 3, 2018) – Covenant minister Bea Radakovich said today she is grateful that she and her dog are alive after narrowly escaping a fire that heavily damaged her fourth-floor apartment and the rest of the building Wednesday afternoon.

Radakovich had gone home early from her job as director of admissions at North Park Theological Seminary because she was feeling ill and had just lain down on the couch to take a nap around 2:30 p.m. when a smoke detector went off.

When she went into her hallway, there already was a trail of smoke moving along the ceiling. Radakovich ran to her kitchen, which opens to an exterior wooden back stairway but flames had already overwhelmed it.

“That fire was raging,” Radakovich said.

She grabbed her dog and escaped through an interior stairway that was starting to fill with smoke. The windows already had started popping.

Firefighters told Radakovich that the fire started in a lower-level apartment’s kitchen due to an aerosol can most likely being too close to a flame. The fire had consumed the back stairwell within a minute or two because workers that day had started waterproofing it, “so there was a lot of flammable stuff laying around.”

Radakovich said that had she not come home early, her dog probably would have died in the fire.

The building has roughly 10 one-bedroom units with about 15 tenants, Radakovich said. Although all the apartments were damaged, everyone and their pets made it out.

Bea Radakovich

Radakovich and several other neighbors sat on the curb across from the building and watched firefighters battle the blaze for three hours before it was extinguished, she said. Radakovich is living temporarily in the seminary visitors’ apartment.

All of Radakovich’s belongings were destroyed, and she didn’t have renter’s insurance, so friends and family have started a Gofundme page.

Radakovich said the experience has made her even more grateful for family and friends and has welcomed the outpouring of support.

She also encouraged everyone to make sure their smoke detectors work. One saved her life, she said.

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About the Author

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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