CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago police officer who was seriously injured when a fire destroyed his house in the Portage Park neighborhood was recovering and “in good spirits” Tuesday afternoon.
Police said Officer John Zook was home alone, and in the shower at his house near Mason Avenue and Irving Park Road when the fire started around 4:10 p.m. Monday.
When Zook got out of the shower, he started searching for the family dog, named Crazy.
“He said it was actually terrifying,” Shakespeare District Police Cmdr. Fabian Saldana said. “He says that once he gets out of the shower, he indicated that he remembered hearing the smoke detectors going off, and the next thing you know, he saw flames shooting across his entire residence.”
While searching for his dog, Zook passed out in the living room. A short time later, firefighters pulled him out of the house, and he woke up on the lawn and told firefighters the dog was still inside.
Firefighters rescued the dog, and treated both of them on the front lawn.
Zook, 54, initially was listed in critical condition, due to injuries from smoke inhalation. Saldana said he was intubated due to injuries to his throat, but his breathing tube has since been removed. Zook told his commander he expects to be released from the hospital on Wednesday.
“Officer Zook is in good spirits. He was actually cracking some jokes with us,” Saldana said.
The officer’s dog is recovering at a neighbor’s house.
Saldana said Zook’s house was destroyed in the fire, and his wife is working with the insurance company to pay for a hotel where he can stay.
“He did say that it’s just property damage. Property can always be replaced, but a life cannot be replaced,” he said.
Zook, a 27-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, has a wife and a son in his 20s.
Saldana described Zook as “a practical joker,” and said as someone who helps other people for a living, “it is tough for him” to accept help from others.
“He’s very grateful,” Saldana said.
Zook’s family and friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for hospital bills, house repairs, and to replace personal belongings destroyed in the fire.