CHICAGO (CBS) — Four Chicago police officers were hailed as heroes for helping rescue a family from an “intense” fire early Monday, but in the eyes of their wives, they were “crazy to run in a burning building.”
“That’s what everybody kept on telling us. ‘You’re not firefighters. What are you doing?'” Officer Julio Ruiz said Tuesday morning.
Shortly after midnight Monday morning, Chicago Police Officers Jason Fong and Chavez Siler were on patrol in the 3900 block of West Congress Parkway, when they saw a two-story brownstone on fire. A woman flagged them down and said her family was trapped inside, so they called for backup and ran into the burning building.
“The fire was intense,” Fong said Tuesday. “I was able to relocate the first victim, female, outside safely. My partner relocated another victim, a female, on the second floor.”
Ruiz and his partner, Officer Raymond Barreto soon joined Fong and Siler in searching the smoky building for other people who might be trapped. Ruiz said as they were going in, they saw a woman coming out with three children — ages 5, 2 and 1 month — and another woman running back inside the building, gesturing that other people were inside.
The four officers then began searching the bedrooms and the kitchen where the fire was burning. Ruiz said smoke was thinner in the living and dining rooms of the apartment they searched.
“More towards the back when you went towards the kitchen. It got thicker, and you could see the flames, and real hot,” Ruiz said.
Thankfully, no one else was inside.
“Once we saw the fire was getting out of hand inside the kitchen where we were at, we ran back out and made sure we took our fellow officers with us out the door,” Ruiz said.
The officers have heard plenty of people tell them they are heroes, but they said their wives had a slightly different reaction.
“I did text the wife when I was at Rush Hospital, and she was extremely worried. She said I was crazy to run in a burning building,” Fong said. “That’s the nature of our job, you know?”
Barreto and Ruiz said their wives had the same response.
“You’re not a firefighter,” Barreto said.
Fong said he and the others didn’t do anything out of the ordinary for police officers.
“That’s our job. You know, we came to protect and serve. This is what we signed up for,” he said. “I believe everybody in the Chicago Police Department would do the same if they were in the same situation.”
The officers were treated for minor smoke inhalation. The five people they saved also were checked out at the hospital, but were soon released with only minor injuries.
“The important part is everyone was out, nobody was hurt, and everyone’s good today,” Barreto said.