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Deaths In Fire Blamed On Lack Of Smoke Detectors

Two occupants died in a fire at 1208 W. 52nd St. Monday afternoon. (CBS)

Two occupants died in a fire at 1208 W. 52nd St. Monday afternoon. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Firefighters say two men who died in a fire in the Back of the Yards neighborhood might have had a chance to get out, of the building had had smoke detectors.

The fire broke out around 1:15 p.m. Monday in the attic of the 3 1/2 story building at 1208 W. 52nd St., just west of Racine Avenue, officials said.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports, Fire Department Media Affairs Director Larry Langford says the call to 911 came from someone on the lower floor of the building.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports

The caller heard something wrong, and smelled smoke.

“I was asleep and I heard windows breaking and I thought there was a fire upstairs and when I came down, when I out of the room, all of that smoke was coming into my house. And so I just got up and put my shoes on and ran out of the house,” the woman told CBS 2’s Pamela Jones.

But while the woman had a smoke detector in her unit, the rest of the building did not have any, Langford said.

“With no smoke detectors, we did not get the early warning, and the residents on the attic level did not get the early warning,” Langford said.

So the men in the attic were trapped.

“What we can see – fire began on the third floor in a rear bedroom, and then went out onto the porch, traveled up to the attic level, lapped back in and set the attic on fire, and cut off the escape route of anybody who was upstairs,” Langford said.

The men, one in his 20s and the other in his 40s, were found during a primary search of the building by firefighters. Firefighters said the two men were already dead when rescue crews reached them.

Their identities have yet to be released.

The city says building owners had been cited six years ago for not having smoke detectors.

Newsradio 780 is trying to contact the current building owner.