3 of 4 firefighters injured in West Side fire remain hospitalized

Tanja Babich Image
Monday, August 1, 2016
3 of 4 firefighters injured in West Side blaze remain hospitalized
Three firefighters are being treated after fighting a fire in the Austin neighborhood.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Three of the four Chicago firefighters injured Sunday afternoon while fighting a blaze in a West Side apartment building remain hospitalized, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

The firefighters - two men their 50s, one 30-year-old man and one man in his mid-40s - all suffered heat and smoke-related injuries, including first- and second-degree burns, according to Fire Media. They were taken to Stroger Hospital and none of their injuries are considered life threatening.

One of the firefighters has been released and the others are in good condition.

The fire in the 4900-block of West Potomac in the Austin neighborhood was reported at about noon, and put out at about 12:30 p.m.

A flash was seen on the second floor as the firefighters went inside the building. Two of the firefighters had to jump out a second story window when a rush of oxygen ignited a backdraft as they entered the home along with two others who entered through the kitchen.

Six people have been displaced by the fire. No other injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire was being investigated Monday morning, however officials believe that the fire started in the back porch of a first-floor unit where the landlord lives. The landlord was gone when the fire started, apparently in the basement.

Apartment resident Derita Conley and her family said they are lucky to be alive. If a passerby hadn't seen smoke coming from their building and knocked on their door, they might not have gotten out safely.

"I went out to the back porch and I saw black clouds," Conley said. "I started screaming and I ran to my husband and told him to check it out. He couldn't check it so he ran too, ran with the kids. We just ran out the door."

Conley lives on the second floor with her husband and three kids, including a 2-year-old child and a 3-month-old baby. After they got out, four firefighters entered the kitchen of their unit. Then, fire officials said a backdraft sent them rushing out.

Conley said she and her family were close to moving and so had most of their possessions boxed up. However, they believe they lost it all in the fire.

Jessie Jordan was driving in the alley when he noticed the smoke.

"They didn't know it was on fire," Jordan said. "I'm hollering 'Get out, get out, get out.' They saw the smoke and then they all got out."

The Conley's five cats were in the building and fire officials said they saved some of the cats.