CHICAGO (CBS) – Arson caused a fire that seriously injured a man firefighters rescued when he became trapped atop the burning three-story building Monday morning in the Englewood neighborhood.
Firefighters were called about 7 a.m. to the 5600 block of South Racine Avenue when a blaze erupted in the building containing a business and multiple apartments, fire officials said.
A man, 26, was about to jump from the top floor when he was plucked from a window ledge by firefighters with a ladder, who rushed him to University of Chicago Hospitals in serious condition, said Fire Media Affairs spokesman Larry Langford.
Geraldine Russell says her son, Gerald, was hanging out the third-floor window when firefighters arrived. She, in turn, was rescued by the friend who was staying with her.
“I had to snatch her out, get her back by the fire escape,” Larry Barksdale tells CBS 2’s Derrick Blakely.
The young man rescued by firefighters apparently suffered burns and cuts from breaking the window to escape.
The fire department said “the fire was started by ignition of a flammable liquid poured on the stairwell.”
Folks in the neighborhood say they know who started the fire: a former tenant who was booted. The landlord would only tell Blakley: “A young boy set it on fire, everybody knows that.”
City records show this building was in deplorable condition even before the fire. It was cited for 32 building code violations in 2011 alone. It failed inspections that year, as well as 2005, 2006, and 2008.
The building had working smoke alarms that awoke residents who called 911, Fire Media Affairs said.
Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire (Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)