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No one was harmed during a house fire in the early morning hours Saturday at 18332 Martin Ave., Homewood, though at least one resident suffered significant personal property damage.
According to Homewood Fire Chief Bob Grabowski, the department received a call about the fire shortly after 1 a.m. Grabowski said the fire was contained to the front porch and the front of the house, and the cause continues to be investigated.
  After extinguishing the
  flames of a housefire that
  happened around 1 a.m.
  Nov. 10, Homewood
  firefighters had to return
  to 18332 Martin Ave. the
  following day when it was
  discovered that fire was still
  smoldering around a
  boarded-up window.

  (Provided photo)

The large house contains two apartments, one upstairs and one downstairs. Janet Mayden lives in the upstairs unit, a three-bedroom, one-bath space she shares with her two children.

“I’m just glad to be alive,” said Mayden, who was not home at the time of the fire. “I feel like God protected me there.”
On Friday evening Mayden had been visiting her boyfriend in Chicago and planned to go home, but wound up staying overnight. Her children were staying with their father, where they spend half their time. Mayden also had her golden retriever, Maggie, with her in the city.
Another family lives on the first floor, Mayden said. One person was home at the time of the fire and another arrived home from work as the building was burning. The only injury caused by the fire was to the downstairs family’s dog, who suffered slight smoke inhalation after a firefighter found it cowering in a closet.
Homewood Fire Department described damage to the structure as “moderate,” but Mayden said her belongings are a total loss. Her bedroom at the front of the house took the brunt of the damage, including her brand new armchair and ottoman. What wasn’t burned is destroyed by smoke, water, mud and from being shoved around as firefighters battled the blaze.
“As soon as I walked in, I started bawling,” Mayden said. “Everything is gone.”
Mayden spent most of Saturday at her home, sifting through belongings and assessing the damage. Her prized collection of boots was destroyed and all her clothes reek of smoke, even after a few washings.
While she was there, she got visits from three clients of her cleaning business, J Clean, along with some neighbors from Martin Avenue, “which is the best block,” she said. 
Also there to help was her ex-husband, Michael Mayden, who she said previously worked as a firefighter and fire investigator for 15 years in Country Club Hills and Markham.
Around midday, as the group stood on the sidewalk talking, Michael noticed one of the windows smoking. Mayden said they called Homewood Fire Department to come out once again. They found the fire still smoldering in layers of shingles by the window and had to extinguish it.
Mayden has been a Homewood resident for 15 years and lived in the apartment for two years. She would have signed a new lease this month. 
Unfortunately, she did not have rental insurance to cover her personal losses.
“That’s definitely a hard lesson learned. I won’t make that mistake again,” Mayden said. “I lost everything. I feel like I was robbed. I don’t even know where to start.”
Her top priority now is finding a new rental space for herself and her children. Mayden needs a two- or three-bedroom unit that accepts dogs. 
“I would like to stay in Homewood. It is such a wonderful community,” she said. “It’s amazing how people come together, even though it’s sad sometimes it takes a tragedy to do it.
“Everything happens for a reason. I know the Lord is on my side, so he’ll take care of me.”

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