4 Hospitalized As Fire Rages In Chatham Apartment Building
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UPDATED 06/26/12 12:01 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Four people were hospitalized, and some residents were left hanging for their lives out of windows, as a fire ripped through an apartment building in the Chatham neighborhood.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, some residents jumped out their windows, and others were hanging waiting to be rescued from the four-story courtyard building at 714 E. 82nd St. The Fire Department called a 2-11 alarm for the blaze at 5:35 a.m., and it was quickly raised to a 3-11 alarm.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
“Due to the amount of calls, they immediately requested more help before our members even arrived,” said Fire Special Operations Chief Michael Fox. “Once our members arrived on the scene, they had heavy fire coming out of the third- and fourth-floor windows. They had people hanging out the windows, and they had one person who had already jumped into the alley.”
That person jumped from a third-floor window, reports WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya.
Meanwhile, a man and his pregnant girlfriend had to be rescued from a wooden electric utility pole next to the fourth-floor windows. A witness, Derrick Jackson, shot cell phone video of a firefighter rescuing the man after hoisting up a ladder.
Both the man and his girlfriend were hospitalized after being rescued.
Another resident, Megan Irwin, was sound asleep when her dog started barking and woke her up.
“He started barking pretty aggressively, and then when I woke up, there was smoke everywhere. I couldn’t even get to my dog,” Irwin said. “It was so much smoke, I couldn’t get out the front door or the back door. I had to jump out the window.”
Irwin jumped 10 feet to safety, but her puppy was nowhere inside. CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, after the fire was completely out, Irwin couldn’t believe her eyes when her pit bull came running up to her. Firefighters had rescued the dog.
Earlier, while flames were still growing inside, some residents had become trapped and were screaming for help. Henrietta Ofili woke up on the couch when her smoke detector went off. Her bedroom was already on fire.
“I went to open my door, then I saw the flames,” Ofili said. “I closed it back. I called 911, and took my baby, went to the back. I was knocking on my next-door neighbor to get out. There’s fire in the building.”
Ofili ran out the back door and out the fire escape.
“Very scary, because I was kind of shaking, you know,” she said.
Ofili’s neighbor got hurt while trying to escape.
“The lady that lives above me, they took her to the hospital, and one of them had jumped through the window and broke their hands,” she said.
Quincella Cooks, 25, her husband, and their 1-year-old son were rescued down a ladder.
“When I woke up, my apartment was covered in smoke. So I went towards the back — it was covered in smoke — went towards the front,” Cooks said. “The next thing, I opened the window and we left out the window.”
Four people were taken to area hospitals from the scene.
One person was initially taken in critical condition to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, two people were taken to Jackson Park Hospital — one in in fair-to-serious and one in good condition.
A fourth person was taken in good condition to St. Bernard Hospital and Health Care Center, Fire Media Affairs said.
By 9 a.m., all the hospitalized victims’ conditions had been upgraded to good, and stable, officials said.
Others had to wait for firefighters to rescue them.
And after the fire was completely out, Irwin couldn’t believe her eyes as her pit bull came running up to her. Firefighters had rescued the dog.
“I am so happy,” Irwin said. “This is my baby.”
The fire was under control by 7 a.m.
According to city records, the building failed its last inspection on June 12. It is not clear if the owners of the building were able to fix the problems.
The Fire Department also ran into some problems while responding. On the way to the scene of the fire, a fire truck was involved in a minor accident at 75th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, Fire Media Affairs said. Another truck was dispatched to replace it.
Fire investigators were on the scene as of 11 a.m., but no cause had been determined.