Updated 07/05/16 – 11:34 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — A University Park family was searching for the man who rescued them from a fire overnight, when their home was damaged by a blaze that might have been sparked by fireworks.
Three adults and five children were inside sleeping when the fire started around midnight on the attached garage of a home in the in the 600 block of Sullivan Lane. The fire had spread to the house itself by the time a man drove by, and went up to the home to get everyone out, including the dogs.
The family said that Good Samaritan pulled them out of the fire, and went back to get a stranded paraplegic family member.
“He actually was the one banging on the door that said there was a fire, and they were getting people out the house, and she got outside, and she said ‘My dad is in the basement, can you go.’ He ran back in the house, and came and got me,” Lawrence Smith said. “Picked me up in my wheelchair, and pulled me up the stairs. We fell coming up the stairs, but then he picked me back up again and got me out the house.”
His sister, Dominique, said the family wouldn’t have gotten out in time if that man hadn’t been driving past and seen the flames, then knocked on their door.
“There’s no way we would have even known,” she said.
The Smith family called the man an angel. They only know him by the name William, and said he had driven in from Mississippi.
Acting Fire Chief Brian Chellio said it appears fireworks might have started the blaze.
“The presence of fireworks were noted on arrival; along the street, the sidewalk, and in the front yard of the home. It may be one of several potential causes that will be investigated,” Chellio said.
Neighbors said someone was setting off fireworks before the blaze started.
“They was doing fireworks throughout the whole night,” Jason Webb said. “I seen the flames through my window, came out. It was a burst of flames, like the whole house was on fire, and the car was on fire, too. I thought the car was going to blow up.”
The garage was leveled in the blaze, and the Smith home sustained significant damage. A neighboring home also was damaged by the flames.
Lawrence Smith went to the hospital to get checked out after the fire, but was not seriously hurt. He did lose some medical supplies in the fire.