6 rescued from roof of burning Berwyn home

December 21, 2011 (BERWYN, Ill.)

Berwyn firefighters put out the blaze. They are still trying to figure out how it started.

One home caught fire, spreading to other homes. Then this became the scene of a dramatic rescue.

"When I opened the door it was all black and smoke...I immediately ran back and started yelling, 'Fire, fire, fire,' to everybody," said Elizabeth Garduno.

Berwyn fire officials say Garduno, her four children, and an adult male were stuck on the roof. They managed to get out of the smoke filled home's window, but they were trapped on the burning home.

Help arrived just in time: Six firefighters saved the family. They helped them climb down the ladder, off the Berwyn home.

"I threw my oldest out the window. Then my 8-year-old baby girl, and then I just started him, and then the other girl and then me," Garduno said. "We all started walking on the side of the building, and I was screaming to jump, and he didn't want to, but thank God the fire department showed up."

"Obviously our job is to save lives, so we abandoned the fire in the beginning stages of it and began the rescue on the roof," said Berwyn Fire Chief Denis O'Halloran. "We had to take off ground ladders, throw them to the roof, get folks that are not usually educated in climbing down a ladder, especially in stressful conditions-- it's a huge rescue to get them down uninjured."

Firefighters say a total of 13 people were in the multiple family home at the time. The family who was rescued lived in a top-floor unit.

The ferocious fire spread to three other buildings, including another home with a family of three, a vacant home and a garage.

One neighbor said he knocked on doors to alert families and he saw the family being rescued.

"You value life when you see something like this," said neighbor Jesse Plascencie. "It's a totally different experience. No words can really explain it."

The fire chief says, out of all the people who escaped or were rescued from the fire, two people are still in an area hospital for smoke inhalation.

It looks like everybody else is ok, but without a home just before the holidays.

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