Rolling Meadows man lost everything but his cats in fire
When Glen Schallman got off the bus after work on Thursday, he gasped at the sight of his Rolling Meadows apartment building on fire.
Schallman, who has survived with a brain tumor, watched as all his possessions went up in flames.
"I just yelled, 'My cats! My cats!' I went into a major panic," said Schallman.
The sudden and extreme stress apparently triggered a seizure and paramedics brought Schallman to Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village.
While in his hospital bed, Schallman was relieved to learn that Boo Boo Kitty, a domestic black cat, and Mew Mew, a tuxedo cat, were actually rescued unharmed. They were brought to an animal hospital in Schaumburg for observation and boarding.
"Boo Boo Kitty was found under the covers and Mew Mew was found under the bed," said a tearful 50-year-old, who works at Build-A-Bear Workshop in Woodfield Shopping Center in Schaumburg. "It's a miracle that they are still alive."
Schallman was a resident of 12 Oaks, where a fire Thursday consumed most of the three-story building, west of Route 53 and south of Algonquin Road. The fire reportedly broke out around 3:30 p.m. and took roughly three hours to extinguish. Twenty-seven families were displaced. Many have been staying at area hotels or with friends or relatives.
Rolling Meadows police and fire officials said Saturday that the case remains under investigation.
Schallman has been a resident of 12 Oaks since last October, arriving here from Phoenix, Ariz., to seek more medical treatment for his seizures. He was diagnosed in 2002 with hypothalamic hamartoma, a rare benign brain tumor located near the hypothalamus.
After his diagnosis, the former travel agent went on disability. He also acquired Boo Boo Kitty and Mew Mew as kittens. As the cats grew up, he says, they instinctively laid across his chest or seemingly felt for a pulse when he was having health problems. "They are my therapeutic cats," he said.
Schallman said he doesn't know what he'll do once he's released from the hospital, possibly on Sunday. He's arranging to stay with friends in Chicago until he can sort out what's left, if anything, of his belongings. He then must find another place to live and start rebuilding his life.
One thing is certain. His beloved Boo Boo Kitty and Mew Mew are alive and he longs to be reunited with them, possibly as early as Monday.
"I'm really stressed out and very scared," he said. "I've lost everything. But I just have to keep going. I love life and I'm not going to give up."