Family jumps from burning building

December 23, 2008 3:30:11 PM PST
Firefighters battled snow and cold at a blaze on the city's West Side Tuesday morning. The building, which was home to 15 people, was destroyed.Nearly a dozen people came face-to-face with flames as the home at 5922 West Erie burned around them while they slept.

"I'm hearing screams while I'm sleeping. I thought it was a dream. I started coughing and I got up and opened the door," said Jeff Dunlap, fire victim.

That's when Jeff Dunlap saw the smoke and flames. He says he grabbed his younger brother and sister. Dunlap jumped out a second-floor window.

"My sister and brother, they were crying. I said stop crying and panicking. Jump out the window. My sister started throwing babies out the window and I started catching them one by one."

"We were trying to get everybody out of the house that's how she got burned, getting people. We didn't want to leave nobody behind," said Gregory Dunlap.

No one was left behind, but 4-year-old Lazaria Jackson was seriously injured. She's now on a breathing machine and being treated for smoke inhalation and burns.

"Our investigation is underway. Due to the extreme damage we haven't been able to determine if smoke detectors were present but we'd like to at this time of year stress the importance of smoke detectors," said District Chief Gregory Lewis, Chicago Fire Department.

The family lost everything- from furniture and clothes to mementos.

"All the Christmas presents were upstairs, so you can see, I can tell you everything is gone," said Glenda Wells, fire victim.

But this extended family does take comfort in knowing they have family and friends close by -- who are offering a warm place to stay.


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