5 injured in West Ridge fire

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Five people were hospitalized, including a Chicago police officer, following a fire in an apartment building early Monday. (WLS)

Five people were hospitalized, including a Chicago police officer, following a fire in an apartment building over a printing business early Monday in the West Ridge neighborhood on the Northwest Side.

Four women and one man were injured.

Firefighters responded about midnight to the two-story a building in the 6000 block of North California Avenue found heavy flames coming from the second floor, said Chicago Fire Department Battalion Chief Tom Arnswald.

Fire officials say the apartment where the fire started on the second floor was likely illegally configured - cut in half to make an extra apartment with too many people in the same room.

No foul play is suspected, police said.

Two people were taken from the second floor by ladders, while three others were taken out via the building's stairs, he said.

Two people were taken in serious-to-critical condition and another taken in fair-to-serious condition to Swedish Covenant Hospital. Two others were transported to Presence Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston; one in fair-to-serious condition and other person's condition was stabilized, Arnswald said. Only one person who was overcome by smoke remained in critical condition Monday morning.

A Chicago police officer suffered an asthma attack and was taken to the hospital, Arnswald said.

Batool Alwaeli opened her apartment window to jump as a fire raged inside. But she was saved by firefighters who took her out by ladder.

"I go to the window, 'Help me! Help me!'" Alwaeli said.

"I had to call the fire department and until they came, the fire started getting bigger. And there was a woman and her daughter screaming from the window, and they had to take her out from it... They had to jump from it," Mohammad Arjuwory said.

Jose Bahena, who wasn't home when the fire started, lost everything. He got home thinking his wife and kids were still inside, but they were at a friend's house, he said.

"My whole place was on fire. I thought my kids were in there. And I ran upstairs, and they dragged me downstairs. I just went upstairs and saw my house; there's a hole in the roof," Bahena said.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.
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