Updated 06/04/14 – 11:14 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago Lawn man was critically injured overnight, after helping his family escape a fire in the three-flat they shared, then rushing back inside to try to find his mother.
CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports firefighters responded to the blaze around 1 a.m. in the 6100 block of South Richmond Street.
Fifteen members of one family, the Rodriguez family, lived in the three-flat, and now they’re not only homeless, they’re worried sick about 43-year-old Gerardo Rodriguez, who suffered serious burns trying to rescue his mother.
When the fire started, Gerardo Rodriguez alerted his family.
“I think he did something good. He saved the whole family,” said his nephew, Jonathon Gutierrez.
Even though Rodriguez got out in time, he ran back inside, afraid his mother was trapped inside. She uses a wheelchair and is unable to walk, but amid the chaos, Rodriguez didn’t realize someone else had pulled her out. In his attempt to find his mother, he suffered severe burns over most of his body.
“He come out, then he dropped to the floor, then the ambulance came,” Gutierrez said.
Rodriguez was taken to Holy Cross Hospital in critical condition, but might be transferred to another hospital with a burn unit. His family said his face was badly burned, and he suffered second-degree burns on much of his body.
“I feel sad he’s in the hospital right now. I hope he gets better,” Gutierrez said.
Officials said the fire appeared to have started in the hallway on the first floor. By the time firefighters arrived, there was heavy smoke on the second floor.
“Very heavy black smoke coming out of second level, with fire from the first floor all the way up the staircase,” Fire Battalion Chief Joe Quinn said.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
The Red Cross was helping the Rodriguez family find shelter after their apartments were rendered uninhabitable.