The blaze started around noon in a one-and-a-half story, brick bungalow at 4928 West Concord Place before spreading to a neighboring building. Firefighters rushed into the first building and found Berklin Fowles, 62, in cardiac arrest at the bottom of a staircase, according to a fire department spokesperson.
Fire officials say a woman in the house was able to tell firefighters that Fowles was inside.
Fowles and the woman were taken to West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park in serious condition due to heavy smoke inhalation.
Fowles is a retired Chicago police sergeant who served mostly in the Austin district for 35 years before he retired in 2009.
Firefighters are calling the rescue amazing. If it weren't for the heroic actions of several Chicago firefighters, they say, at least one person may have perished in the fire.
"It's a scary feeling. But we just had to do what we had to do to get him out of there," said Jason Risley of the Chicago Fire Department. "It looked like the bedroom is where the majority of the fire was at and I believe it spread somewhat to the second floor...upon the primary search, I came upon the bedroom and found the gentleman lying face down. That is when I attempted to pull him out."
"Most of the fire was in the rear, blowing out the window of the one bedroom," said Capt. James Rice, Chicago Fire Department.
Fire officials say there were no working smoke detectors in the home.
The cause and origin of the fire is still under investigation.