3 injured, 2 critically in Northwest Side apartment fire: Chicago Fire Department

ByJohn Garcia and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, July 31, 2023
3 injured, 2 critically in NW Side apartment fire: CFD
The Chicago Fire Department said three people were injured in an apartment building fire on Marmora Avenue in Belmont Cragin.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Three people were injured in am apartment building fire on the Northwest Side Monday morning, the Chicago Fire Department said.

Around 5:20 a.m., fire officials said a fire broke out on the third floor of an apartment building in the 2100-block of Marmora Avenue. Ring camera video from down the street shows flames shooting from the top floor of the two-story building.

"I saw a bunch of lights coming into our house," Cayetano Cornejo, who lives next door, said. "I looked out the door and I saw the fire trucks already out there."

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Three family members, in their 50s and 60s, were all taken to different hospitals. The victims are husband and wife, along with the wife's brother, a relative said.

"The poor lady getting CPR," Cornejo said. "They are real nice people. I always say 'hi' to them. They're real nice people couple that live up there, the family. It was sad to see him going through that."

The Chicago Fire Department said the husband was the first to hear the smoke alarm located on the third floor.

That smoke alarm also alerted Cesar Perez, who was sleeping on the first floor. He quickly got out of the building and called 911.

"I saw the guy coming down the stairs. He's like, 'Help my wife! Help my wife.' I couldn't do anything, can't go into the flames," Perez said. "It was a really bad experience."

Unable to reach his wife, he began going door to door, waking other residents up to escape and suffering from smoke inhalation himself, as a result and potentially saving many lives, a firefighter said.

"I wouldn't be surprised he was the one dragging his whole family out of safety," Cornejo said.

"He loves his wife, so I'm pretty sure he was instantly trying to save her."

Crews found the wife on the floor, collapsed they said, as she tried to escape. Her brother was found in the bed. Both were in cardiac arrest.

"Just to see that happen, to see him coming out in tears, had me as a grown man and a big guy like me in tears," Cornejo said. "Because he's a humble guy."

Neighbors are praying for them to pull through.

"Hopefully they'll get a good recovery and get through this," Cornejo said.

The son said his stepfather is expected to be OK. His mother and uncle are not doing as well and were in critical condition.

State law calls for smoke detectors to be on every floor of a building within 15 feet of sleeping areas. Residents at the Belmont Cragin building are grateful the building was in compliance.

"Smoke detectors always make a huge difference, because if it's not you, it wakes up somebody, a family member and they can alert and dial 911," said CFD Commander Brandon Singleton.

Meanwhile, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.