"Knocking on the door, telling us to rush out, get out. We came out and discovered the top floor was on fire," Sharon Goins, resident, said.
That's when residents got ready for their own rescue, grabbing blankets they could use to catch children as they jumped out of the building in the 2100-block of South 16th Avenue. But fire crews from four agencies showed up just then, acted quickly, and got the ladders up. No one had to jump.
"We got a ladder, put it up to the units. . . It had a lot of smoke. They were about to jump or throw the baby out the window into the blankets ," Broadview Firefighter Anthony Monks said.
"We prefer to bring them down the ladder, instead of bringing them out the window. People do not realize, when a body or a person hits the blanket, that it can get pulled right out of their hands," Firefighter Jim Cannon, Broadview Fire Department, said.
Broadview Firefighters Anthony Monks climbed up a ladder to bring a baby down safely. He then helped three other people get down the ladder, and then joined Maywood firefighter Dan Cerullo in getting an elderly man down the building's stairs. That man suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to a hospital.
"Found an elderly man still alert. At that same time, there were firemen were coming through the ladders, we met up and carried him down north stairwell," Maywood Firefighter Dan Cerullo said.
"The crews did a great job with what they were faced with when they arrived on the scene," said Chief Tom Gaertner said.
"It is something you train for and you hope you never have to use that training, but when the time comes, you are glad that you received the proper training and you are able to make a difference in someone's life," Firefighter Monks said.
Dozens of people were displaced by the fire. The Red Cross is helping with temporary housing.
Officials say the fire began when food was left cooking unattended on the stove.