CHICAGO (WLS) -- From the hovering view of a neighboring high-rise, cellphone video captured flames shooting through the roof of a residential Edgewater apartment building on North Sheridan Road just after midnight on Saturday morning.
Even from the safety of distance, it looked menacing.
"The flames had a lot of strength in them, and it was growing so quickly," said Ryan Cook, who lives nearby and witnessed the fire.
Firefighters received a call at about 12:21 a.m. to a building in the 5700 block of North Sheridan Road. They knew there was little time. In the cellphone video, you can see them scurrying up the ladder and around the low-rise roof.
"Smoke was billowing from the window. The entire interior of this apartment right here was just smoke," said Scott Domek, who lives in a neighboring building.
Inside, on the building's fifth and highest floor, Laura Churio opened her apartment door just down the hall from the fire's epicenter. The hallway, she said, was thick with smoke
"We could escape from our side, but a lot of people got trapped on this side of the building," Churio said.
As people scrambled outside to the safety of fresh air, Domek watched the darting beams of flashlights as firefighters rummaged the thick smoke.
"We heard very emotional screams, pleading with the fire department," Domek said.
Firefighters rescued an older man and two women. All three, CFD said, were rushed to the hospital with various serious injuries.
Now, the center of the building is clearly charred, but firefighters said they contained the worst of the blaze to a single apartment.
The debris outside is just a small amount of the remaining damage. One woman said half of her floor is marked with black smoke, and her neighbor's apartment where the fire started is destroyed.
Now, investigators are trying to figure out what sparked the fire.