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UPDATED 12/21/11 5:13 p.m.
BERWYN, Ill. (CBS) — Dramatic rescues saved lives in Berwyn early Wednesday, when a fire broke out and spread to two neighboring houses.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the fire broke out around 6 a.m. at 3642 Wesley Ave. in Berwyn. It quickly spread to two neighboring houses – all of this just four days before Christmas.
Two families lived in the home where the fire broke out. The family upstairs barely made it out.
Elizabeth Garduno was heard crackling as flames flickered outside her second-story bedroom at the house where the fire broke out. She quickly jumped to action.
“I started screaming, ‘Fire! Fire! Fire!’ while my kids were waking up. I ran to the kitchen. I opened the door. It was full of black smoke. I closed immediately. I said: ‘We’ve got to get out the window. There’s no way out. We’ve got to get out the window,” Garduno said.
The window was the only escape for Garduno and her four children.
“This little one right here – my 8-year-old – she put up a fight. She said she wasn’t going to get out, and, ‘No, I’m not going to get out! I’m not going to get out!’ and I had to holler at her and get her out,” Garduno said.
As CBS 2′s Dana Kozlov reports, it was a daring, but necessary escape, made after calling 911.
“We’re trapped upstairs in the attic,” her husband said in a call to 911. “There’s me … my wife, my kids … we’re climbing out the window now.”
The fire spread quickly to the back of the house.
“We just stayed on the edge of the roof, and then we just started walking slowly, slowly, slowly to the front, and praying and praying to our Lord Jesus,” Garduno said.
David Perales’ family lived on the first floor. Garduno’s family was stranded on the roof when Perales’ family escaped.
“My kids were already out. They were, like, looking at them, like, heartbroken, like, ‘What do we do? There’s nothing we can do,” he said.
One of Perales’ children simply described the fire as “scary.”
Added resident Martin Ferrusquia, 16, “There was like a lot of fire and a lot of smoke, and then I heard an explosion because the back window exploded inward.”
That was when the firefighters arrived and brought the stranded Gardunos down with a ladder.
“Thank God. That’s our Christmas, that we’re OK,” Garduno said.
Even without shoes and nothing more than a blanket, both families say they are thankful that everyone survived.
“We may have lost a lot, but we’re all here.” Perales said.”Lives are more important than materialistic things.”
But there were major material losses. Wrapped Christmas presents lying under the Christmas tree were burned to ashes.
Two adults were taken to an area hospital for smoke-related issues, but it didn’t seem to be serious.
The homes on either side of 3642 Wesley Ave. sustained minor damage.
The American Red Cross came to the scene to help the families that were displaced.