By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — An off-duty Cicero firefighter is being hailed as a hero, after rushing into a burning building in Lyons on Friday to rescue two men who were on the smoke-filled second floor.

Cicero Fire Department Lt. Brian Kulaga said he was out running errands in Lyons on Friday afternoon, when he spotted a fire in the second floor apartments above Waterworks Tavern at 7815 Ogden Ave.

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He said he pulled his car over and knocked on the door to the bar to tell them the building was on fire, and asked the people inside to show him how to get up to the second floor.

“I found the first resident about eight feet in, walked him out,” he said. “Asked him about anybody else in the building. He mentioned he had somebody else up there. I went in. I could hear that gentleman calling for help. Smoke was about a foot from the floor. I just crawled toward his voice, found him, pulled him down to the floor, and dragged him out of the building.”

Lyons Fire Chief Gordon Nord said the smoke conditions inside the building would have been “pretty much unbearable.”

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“He went up the stairs with no protective gear on, with no regard for his life at all, to save two people who were occupied on the second floor,” Nord said. “The smoke was about 2 foot, 3 foot off the ground. Brian had to get on his stomach to get in there, to get these people out. He’s truly a hero. He saved two people’s lives today.”

Nord said the fire caused heavy damage to the second floor of the building, while the first floor sustained heavy water damage.

The two men Kulaga rescued were taken to the hospital, and were expected to survive.

Kulaga said, while he’s rescued plenty of people from fires while on duty, this is the first time he’s done something like this while off duty.

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“Probably thought about it 100 times what I would do. Guess I had that chance,” he said.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff