Updated 06/30/14 – 11:17 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Firefighters rescued several people from a burning apartment building in the Austin neighborhood early Monday, although one man was seriously injured when he jumped out a window to escape the flames.
WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports residents of a five-story apartment building at 123 N. Central Av. said they heard smoke alarms going off around 3:45 a.m. The fire started on the fourth floor. Flames and smoke damaged the fifth floor as well, and parts of the third floor sustained water damage.
Some people were rescued from their apartments after firefighters used ladders to reach the windows of the upper floors.
Fire Media Affairs Chief Verdi Allen said one man didn’t wait for help from firefighters, and jumped from an upper floor. He was taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County in serious to critical condition.
Delaney Jones talked with the victim’s sister this morning after he jumped.
“The house was filling up with smoke, and it was fire in the hallway, and he felt like – from the heat – he thought the flames was fixing to come through. So he was standing on the edge, and he’s saying, ‘I’ve got to jump. I’ve got to jump,’” Jones said.
Four other people were taken to Loretto Hospital in good condition.
Darryl Reynolds, who lives on the fourth floor, said he heard someone banging on his door, and thought someone was breaking in.
“Then when I got to the door, I felt it hot,” he said.
Firefighters broke all the windows on the fourth floor in order to put out the flames.
Tiara Terrell was among those who waited for firefighters to come up and rescue them.
“I was scared. I kept praying to God. I felt like I could have died up in there. I’ve got asthma. I felt like I could have had an asthma attack,” she said. “I’m screaming ‘Help!’ I’m praying. So they took me down the ladder.”
Others, like Wilsie Jones, crawled to the stairwell to get to safety.
“I’m yelling “Help me out. Help me out of here,’” she said. “I was screaming right out that window.”
A firefighter came to her door and led her to the back stairs.
“It was the scariest thing, because I knew I had nothing but one way out,” she said.
It was the second fire she’s lived through in 10 years. Once again, she’ll have to live out of a suitcase until she finds a new home.
A couple dozen families temporarily were left homeless, due to damage from the fire. The American Red Cross was helping those people find shelter.
The cause was under investigation Monday morning.