Chicago firefighters spot fatal apartment blaze before call

A Chicago Fire Department spokesman said more residents could have died if firefighters hadn't responded as quickly


Rosemary Sobol
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — One man has died and another man in his 80s was in critical condition after a fire started in an East Chatham apartment building on Wednesday evening.

About 5:30 p.m., firefighters from Engine 72 were returning to their station after an “ambulance assist” call about a block away from the 7900 block of South Maryland Avenue, said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Merritt.

“They saw smoke between the trees,” Merritt said. “They rolled toward the building, and they saw it was indeed a fire,” he said, adding it hadn’t even been called in to them yet.

The brick, multi-unit building, 7954–7956 S. Maryland Ave., is about four stories high, and as the truck pulled up, one of the first things they saw was a man in his 80s “disoriented” walking out of the burning building, Merritt said.

He was taken in critical condition to the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Once inside, firefighters found another victim, a man in his 60s, deceased inside one of the apartment units, Merritt said. His name was not immediately being made public.

As of about 7 p.m. crews remained at the scene ventilating the “moderately damaged” building, where about 10 residents were displaced.

The cause of the fire was under investigation and not immediately known.

“We could have lost a lot more people” if crews hadn’t gotten there so soon, Merritt said. “It’s sad that we lost any.”

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©2021 Chicago Tribune

 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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