While fire officials work to determine the cause of a blaze that gutted an Oak Lawn bridal shop, hundreds of women whose dresses were destroyed in the fire are trying to figure out what to do next.
Eva's Bridal, located at 4811 W. 95th St. in southwest suburban Oak Lawn, caught fire Wednesday afternoon. The shop has served area brides for 45 years, and both customers and employees were devastated by the incident.
"There are no words to describe how we feel about today's tragic event and fire; we cannot even imagine how you may feel," store owners wrote on their website Wednesday night. "We are just as devastated as anyone as this has been our home for over 30 years. We are grateful for no physical injuries and are saddened by the emotional toll this may have on everyone."
The Oak Lawn store is a third generation family-owned business, and they plan to get back on their feet as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, brides are dealing with their own losses.
Ashley Kuhl, 26, of Crestwood, was on the scene of the blaze with her mother Wednesday. Her dress was destroyed, and her wedding is about two weeks away.
"I don't know what to think," Kuhl told the Southtown Star. "I guess I'm just shocked."
The bride hoped to find a replacement dress quickly.
Since news of the fire broke, many people have come forward offering to donate their used (once) wedding dresses. WGN Radio is helping to organize a sort of "dress drive." On their Facebook page, the radio station asks those willing to make donations for a photo of the dress, the dress size and description. It also asks for contact information. The station asks those who lost dresses in the fire to share their information as well. Learn more here and here.
The message on Eva's website Thursday was a hopeful one:
". . .We are committed to staying in Oak Lawn. We will be back stronger and better than ever!! We have worked hard over the last 45 years building an excellent rapport with our manufactures. We are all working hand-in-hand with those manufacturers to deliver gowns to our brides."
Oak Lawn firefighters told the Chicago Tribune that the fire does not appear to be suspicious in nature, and is still under investigation.