2 jump to escape Lakeview apartment building fire; 2 rescued

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Four people were critically injured in a fire in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood overnight.

The blaze broke out just before 1:50 a.m. Friday in the six-unit building in the 3400-block of North Janssen Avenue. When crews arrived, flames were shooting out of the back of the structure.

Joseph Alfe, who lives next door, was able to get his wife and five children out of their home safely after he heard noises outside around 2 a.m.

"I didn't know if there was a fight outside or something. So when I looked out the window, I noticed a guy out here wrapped in a bed sheet, screaming, 'Get out! Get out!' That's when I turned my head and saw the flames were shooting 20 feet out of the neighboring house," Alfe said.

Jessica Johnson, who lives in the front apartment, said she woke up when she heard someone screaming outside. A 35-year-old man had jumped from his third floor apartment to escape the fire.

"By the time I heard him screaming, after he jumped and I came outside immediately, the flames were shooting out the window, all the way to the building next door," Johnson said.

A 23-year-old woman jumped from a rear apartment onto the roof of a garage.

"One of my roommates helped the lady off the garage. He helped her down and police were there to help her out right away," said Mark Oswald, a neighbor.

Firefighters rescued a 22-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman from inside the burning building.

A family of seven walked down the street to safety after the dad heard noises just before 2 a.m.

An EMS Plan 1 was called. The man and woman who jumped were transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where they are listed in critical condition. The man and woman who were rescued were rushed to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where they are also listed in critical condition.

No one was allowed to stay in the building, but firefighters let them gather what they needed from their homes after the flames were extinguished. The Red Cross helped the displaced residents find somewhere to stay.

Johnson returned to her apartment later Friday morning, only to walk back out again.

"The ceiling is bowing down with water, so it actually doesn't look safe in there at all right now," she said.

Most of the damage occurred in the rear of the building. Windows are gone, debris is scattered in the alley and some siding melted. Alfe said the fire only did minor damage to his back deck.

The Chicago Police Bomb and Arson Unit is investigating what sparked the flames.
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