Neighbors help save lives in East Side building fire

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Two people were hospitalized after an extra-alarm fire in the East Side neighborhood. (WLS)

Neighbors helped save lives during a fire in the East Side neighborhood that sent two people to the hospital Friday morning, the Chicago Fire Department said.

The fire was in a two-story building in the 10500-block of South Ewing-block of South Ewing Avenue. Before it became a fiery scene, tenants in the two buildings only smelled smoke. And that was enough warning to help one another. David Wolinski said he knocked on doors.

"Told everybody to get the heck out of there before it starts going crazy. By the time we got out - flames were coming through the roof already," Wolinski said.

"He said - get out, it's smoking, smoking real bad - so we got out and that was it," said Mark Rutzen, who heard his neighbor yelling for others to evacuate.

"The companies also found a civilian on the second floor who they rescued, and there was also one civilian who assisted another civilian from the second floor of the building," said Chicago Fire Department Division Chief Rosalind Jones.

That Good Samaritan was Mike McWilliams. He saw one of his neighbors stuck on the second floor of the burning building, getting ready to jump from his window. McWilliams used a ladder to help him.

"He just couldn't get out because the fire was outside his apartment (So you went and helped him?) Well, someone has got to. He was getting ready to jump because the fire was coming to him, he had to get out," McWilliams said.

McWilliams said he hasn't seen his friend since then. Chicago fire officials say they transported one man in critical condition, and a woman in serious condition. Both had smoke inhalation.

There were 7 apartment units in the buildings, and two businesses, including a hair salon - and the salon's owner knowns the woman who went to the hospital.

"I'll help her out, 'cause I live right around the corner. She's got nobody," salon owner Pamela Hoagland said.

Hoagland has owned the salon for 35 years. And although her business is destroyed, she's concerned about her friend.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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chicago fire departmentfireEast SideChicago
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