CHICAGO (CBS) — It was arson.
That’s what CBS 2 has learned about the intense fire inside a Chicago apartment building on Monday where more than 50 people lost everything to the flames in the Austin neighborhood.
CBS 2’s Cesar Rodriguez has a look at the past problems at the building.
CPD detectives said it’s arson. Some windows are now boarded up and in some spaces, a charred interior can be seen. Some residents said they are alive because of the quick response of many.
The fire raged from the rooftop and a pillar of dark smoke was visible at the apartment building. The Hill family said they woke up after neighbors and firefighters alerted them.
“I was glad to get my baby out. It was (just) in time because that could have gone inside his little lungs and stuff like that. Thank god to the fire people because they bagging the doors trying to get everybody to come out,” said displaced resident Savanna Hill.
Five adults and one child were taken to the hospital after the fire swept through the three-story building. The blaze started around 5:30 Monday morning at the corner of Congress and Laramie.
“Me and the officer actually ran upstairs and did door by door and got everyone out,” said Delmario Hill, another displaced resident.
The stairwells inside the building were burned out, which kept firefighters from reaching the second and third floors. A ladder was used to rescue 10 people. A woman jumped out and was caught by neighbors.
“She was scared out of her mind. So when I told her to jump, she jumped. We caught her. I was just happy that the lady was OK,” said Diamond Benjamin, who caught the woman.
CBS 2 found the building failed three inspections in 2017. Some of the violations included a blocked exit and inspectors weren’t able to go inside to check stairwells and look for smoke detectors.
The building failed one inspection last year, which included failure to fix broken doors and again not being able to check the stairwells and detectors. The owners were fined for the 2017 violations and the 2018 case is still open.
CBS 2 has been working to find the name of the owner. CBS 2 reached out to the property management company but no answers yet.