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Extra-Alarm Fire Rips Through West Chicago Apartment Complex

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West Chicago Fire

An extra-alarm fire broke out early Monday at this apartment complex in West Chicago. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 07/11/11 6:35 a.m.

WEST CHICAGO, Ill. (CBS) — An extra-alarm fire broke out overnight at an apartment complex in West Chicago overnight, and some residents were reportedly trapped.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, fire crews responded for the six-alarm blaze around 2:15 a.m. at the Aspen Apartment Complex, at 515 Carriage Dr. in West Chicago.

Firefighters had to rescue five people from a third-floor balcony, but no one was injured, and no firefighters or civilians were injured.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Bernie Tafoya reports

A grill that was left burning on a second-floor balcony might have been to blame for the fire, officials said.

“I don’t know if it was the air conditioner or it was part of the grill – a lot of flames were coming out and it spread really, really quickly,” said building resident Dawn Cabral. “The building was engulfed; in about 15-20 minutes, it was done.”

The situation could have been far worse if not for the firefighters’ rescue efforts, according to West Chicago Fire Deputy Chief Robert Hodge.

“Heat exhaustion; they were in direct contact with flames; they were burned; they received smoke inhalation, but they definitely would have been burned, and possibly killed, if the guys hadn’t gotten them off the balconies,” Hodge said.

The displaced residents were taken to the clubhouse for the complex, where they were taken care of by the American Red Cross. Cabral said she had not heard of injuries either.

“They were taking people up on – not that balcony that was burning, the next one over, there was people on there,” she said. “They were screaming, trying to get out, so the fire department got there and took them out. Everybody got out safely – I asked the police department, and everybody got out safely.”

Rodney Johnson lives in a nearby building, and says he and his brother were outside talking when the fire erupted overnight.

“All of a sudden, like, we just smelled smoke, from there it just erupts; and I’ve never seen anything like that before, honestly, like that was scary – especially because all of these buildings are connected to each other,” he said.

The fire started on the second floor in the back of the building, and rose up to the third floor. At least 30 fire vehicles were on the scene handling hot spots as of 5 a.m., and 13 ambulances were out just in case.

Twenty-four of the 48 units in the building were destroyed, fire officials said.

Two apartment buildings — one on each side of the apartment building — sustained water damage from the firefighting efforts.

Southbound Route 59 was closed at Route 38 for the fire.

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