Firefighter injured, resident barely escapes Lawndale blaze

Diane Pathieu Image
Friday, August 25, 2017
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Chicago firefighters battles three separate fires Friday morning on Chicago's Southwest Side.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago firefighters battled three separate fires Friday morning on the city's Southwest Side.

In a matter of hours, an apartment fire broke out in the 1800-block of South Avers Avenue, a garage fire broke out in the 1800-block of South Millard Avenue and an abandoned home near West 64th Street and South Claremont in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood.

No one was injured in any of these fires and the fire department has not said whether they are connected in any way. Investigators are looking into what caused them.

The residents of the three-story brick building on the corner of West 18th Street and Avers said the apartment fire was set on purpose.

"The fire didn't start in the house. The fire started on the back porch. Deliberately," said Linda Cole, who also lives in the building.

Fire officials have not yet confirmed the cause or whether the fire was suspicious, but they did say one firefighter suffered burns and a man living on the top floor had to be rescued.

That man, Jerry Woods, said he didn't know if he was going to live or die.

"I thought I was a goner. I thought that was the end of my life," Woods said.

He woke up to smoke and flames shooting out of the back porch, spreading to his apartment. He tried to find a way out, but the fire was everywhere.

"When I got to the door, there was big flames. I said, 'Oh, wow! Man! You telling me I gotta jump?' So I go to my window and I was getting ready to jump out the third floor. Then the fireman set the ladder up. That's how they got me down," Woods said.

Everyone else was able to get out safely.

"I heard glass breaking. I heard glass breaking and somebody running down the stairs or something. That was it. Then I started hearing people saying, 'Get out,'" said Audrean Ward, who lives in the building.

Many residents, still in their pajamas, watched as the blaze was quickly put out before 6 a.m. The rear porch and rear apartment were badly damaged. Five people were displaced.

Woods was able to go back inside his home to see the smoke damage. As of 9:30 a.m., others had not been allowed back in yet.

The firefighter was taken in good condition to Mount Sinai Hospital, the fire department said. He is expected to be OK.