2 hurt in Southwest Side fire

December 20, 2010 9:52:18 AM PST
Two people were rescued from a burning Southwest Side building early Monday as a fire destroyed a barbershop, beauty salon and several apartments.

Firefighters saved the victims using ladders. One was taken to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. Fire officials believe he will be fine. The other was treated on the scene.

The fire started in the 2700-block of West 59th Street in a three-story apartment building with businesses on the first floor. Residents say about 20 to 30 people live in the building, but it was the front portion above the businesses that was most affected.

The fire department says at least 15 residents were displaced.

Maria Leibas had to move her mother out of her smoke- and water-damaged apartment.

"The TV, the stereo, the things that were in the living room pretty much; verything else in their bedroom is pretty much ruined. The kitchen, everything, everything, I mean, there is just stuff all over the floors. It smelled like smoke. I went in there for about five seconds and came back out and stunk," said Leibas.

The fire appears to have started in the barber shop, which was gutted and charred. The blaze spread quickly to the apartments above around 1:30 a.m., and firefighters had it contained by 3 a.m.

One man says he believes everything in his unit was destroyed, and he just lost his job about three weeks ago.

"It's sad because I lost my job, like, a month ago, and it is just me and my girlfriend, and I ain't got a place to go. I'm looking for a job. I ain't got a job. It's just a bad situation," said Stanley Sterczek.

"I wake up, my husband wakes me up and says, 'Let's go." I says, 'What happened?' He says, 'The building['s] on fire.' I told him, my jacket, my pants, you know, because I was sleeping, and I tried to go to the closet, and I can't. All the smoke is right there," said Maria Rodriguez.

A CTA warming bus was available for some of those residents, and the Red Cross was offering assistance.


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