CHICAGO (WLS) -- A woman was critically injured in a fire at a three-story apartment building in the Lincoln Park neighborhood near the DePaul University campus.
Neighbors say the victim, who is in her 70s, was black with smoke and completely unrecognizable when firefighters brought her out of the burning building. Paramedics performed CPR on her before rushng her to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where she is in critical condition.
The Chicago Fire Department said they responded to the blaze at a three story 12 unit apartment building in the 800 block of W. Belden, on the corner of N. Dayton Street a little after 7 p.m.
Officials said the fire appears to have started in the kitchen of the victim's third floor rear apartment. Firefighters had to work fast to keep flames from spreading to some back wooden porches and to the roof.
One resident said she and her neighbor raced up to the third floor with fire extinguishers in hand to try to rescue the victim, but they just couldn't get to her.
"Cuz the embers were coming down on us as we went up, but once we got up on the third floor, it was just too far... it was just quick. It was just engulfed in flames," said Kimberly Hayes, resident.
"There was smoke visible from the third floor. When I went around to the rear to check conditions, I could see that the fire had been pushing out of the kitchen. It was extending into the back porch area," said CFD Battalion Chief Brian McKermitt.
Neighbors said the victim was a sort of matriarch of the building and a longtime resident.
Firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to other units but there is water damage throughout the building. Residents will have to find somewhere else to stay at least for the night.
The fire was struck out around 8 p.m., CFD said.