Business owners and relief groups are promising to help those impacted by a fire that destroyed a popular historic bridal shop in Chicago’s west suburbs Thursday. 

VIP Occasions in Elmhurst caught fire shortly before 2 p.m. The blaze grew so strong that flames tore through the store from top to bottom, leaving the building at 351 N. York St. completely ruined, as well as everything inside. 

Cellphone video shot at the scene showed plumes of smoke billowing for a charred building. Multiple fire trucks were parked in the street as firefighters doused the building from the ground level and from above in a cherry picker. 

The strength of the fire was so intense that its remnants were still smoking and smoldering early Friday morning. 

It was the many bridal dresses at the shop that had been fueling the fire, making it so difficult for firefighters to knock out. 

Fire officials said the shop is a “total loss,” with most of the suits and dresses left in ashes amongst the damage left behind. 

Sisters Nicole Samardzija and Natalie Krstev owned VIP Occasions for more than 25 years, since opening the shop in 1991. 

“Despite the devastating loss of our “baby,” my sister and I are working tirelessly on behalf of our loyal customers,” they wrote on the store’s Facebook page. “We are overwhelmed by the charred ruins of countless memories, despite the relentless & heroic efforts by teams of local firefighters. Miraculously no one was injured and for that we are grateful.” 

Other owners have also stepped up to help brides who lost their gowns in the blaze. 

David Gaffke, who owns Complete Bridal in East Dundee, told NBC 5 that if a bride can prove they bought a dress that was lost in the fire, he will replace it for free. The only cost to the bride would be for any alterations needed, Gaffke said. He helped 43 brides when Eva’s Bridal in Oak Lawn burned in 2010.

Volle’s Bridal Boutique in Lake Zurich and Eva’s Bridal in Oak Lawn are also offering to help brides with proof of purchase who lost dresses in the fire.

The owners of VIP Occasions plan to set up a temporary shop at York Medical Center once this area is safe, they said, as they work to accommodate and respond to all of the customers whose orders and merchandise were lost or destroyed.  

Published at 11:17 AM CST on Jan 27, 2017 | Updated at 10:39 PM CST on Jan 27, 2017


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