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11 Hurt In Fire At Building Near Loyola

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Winthrop Avenue Fire

Several people were rescued Monday morning from a fire in the 6200 block of North Winthrop Avenue. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 03/14/11 4:45 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Eleven people were injured Monday morning as fire and smoke swept through a 48-unit apartment building in the North Side Rogers Park neighborhood near Loyola University.

At least one of the seriously injured jumped from the fourth floor of the four-story building on the 6200 block of North Winthrop Street, Fire Media Affairs spokesman Will Knight said.

Overall, seven people were seriously to critically injured; three were in fair to serious condition; and one was in good to fair condition, Fire Media spokesman Richard Rosado said. The injured included smoke inhalation victims and jumpers.

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The fire, which officials said was accidental, started on the third floor in the back of the building.

The occupant of the apartment immediately got out to alert his neighbors, Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford said. That man was not injured in the blaze.

Fire officials received the call at 9:48 a.m. and launched a large-scale effort to quickly extinguish the fire and assist terrified residents.

Three people were rescued, two from the top floor and one from an interior stairwell, Rosado said.

LaTrone Latham, a 37-year-old factory worker, was one of those rescued after he was trapped on the fourth floor. He said he woke up to the sounds of a young woman screaming, “I can’t see! I can’t see!”

He opened his door but saw only darkness. He grabbed pants and a coat, and tried to feel his way along the hallway, holding his breath. At one point he saw what he believed were stereo lights. He had wandered into another unit.

“I finally saw a light,” he said. “There was a window and I raised it.”

Firefighters led him down a ladder.

“I’m a pretty positive person,” he said. “I like to consider myself a fighter in my own way. But for a moment I wasn’t sure I would make it out.”

Megan Washington, 21, a fine arts major at Loyola, said she woke to fire alarms and smoke seeping into her apartment.

“The first thing I thought of was I have to grab Nala,” her 14-year-old tabby cat, Washington said.

She tried to flee out the front stairs but the smoke was too thick.

“It was very dense,” she said. “I couldn’t see five feet in front of me.”

She and Nala made it through a back exit. She watched firefighters work on the building as she warmed Nala under her jacket.

The two-alarm fire was out by 10:58 a.m., Rosado said. A total of 150 firefighters and paramedics responded with a total of 55 pieces of equipment.

Forty people have been displaced from the place and the owners of the building were on the scene.

Red Cross and city workers spent the afternoon trying to help the building’s tenants, who were going back in floor by floor to check their belongings, CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports. 

Damage to the third floor was “extensive,” while the fourth floor damage was less severe. Langford said. The first and second floors of the building sustained water damage.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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