Pregnant woman jumps from window of West Chicago apartment building to escape fire

West Chicago launches fundraising and donation campaign for displaced families

Friday, December 1, 2023
Massive West Chicago fire displaces 100, pregnant woman and child jump from window
The West Chicago Fire Department said six people, including a firefighter were injured in a large apartment building fire.

WEST CHICAGO (WLS) -- A pregnant woman who jumped from a third floor window was among six people, including a firefighter, injured after a fire in a West Chicago apartment building Thursday, authorities said.

About 100 people spent the morning grabbing belongings from their units after a fire ripped through this building at the Main Park apartment complex at 813 Burr Oaks Drive. Some were able to locate their pets.

The fire broke out just after 1 a.m., injuring five people including a pregnant woman. Two remain hospitalized but three, including a child, are back with family.

"There was one of the five civilians injuries was a pregnant woman that jumped from the third floor," West Chicago Fire Protection District Chief Patrick Tanner said. "As far as I know, her injuries are not significant."

West Chicago police said an officer caught a 9-year-old boy who either jumped or was lowered from the third floor. Police said he was taken to the hospital but has since been released. It wasn't known if he is related to the pregnant woman.

A firefighter also suffered a minor knee injury. Meanwhile, fire officials said the fire originated in a bedroom closet on the second floor.

Lorena Barroso lives in that apartment with her dog and adult son.

"When I woke up, the apartment was already on fire," Barroso said. "What I did was run, I tried to put the fire out but I couldn't."

Fire officials said the fire spread fast as people opened their doors and their windows.

"I opened the curtains up and I see there was fire, like a big fire," said Eric Cuautle, who lives across the street. His doorbell camera caught the magnitude of the blaze.

Property owner Vijay Gupta came to the scene and became emotional.

"I have on this property for like 18 or 19 years and some of the people have lived here for so long," Gupta said. "They are like my family."

About a year ago there was another unintentional fire at the Main Park Apartments and now this. Gupta called it bad luck and offered his residents help.

"We do have other property in nearby communities and we're going to offer them to move them into those units if they wish to move," Gupta said. "I have owned this property for like 18 or 19 years and some of the people have lived here for so long. They are like my family."

It's still unclear what exactly caused the fire which remains under investigation, but fire officials said the building is uninhabitable.

The Red Cross and a New Hope United Methodist Church are also lending support to the residents. The church has opened its doors to scores of people, and the Red Cross is working around the clock to find them more permanent shelter.

"It's always a tragic moment, regardless of the time of the year, but especially when it's cold, when there's children, and they left in the middle of the night with no shoes, no jackets," said Connie Esparza, Red Cross of Illinois.

Many of the newly homeless residents arrived to the nearby New Hope United Methodist Church without shoes or jackets. The church's pastor opened her doors, no questions asked.

"I wish I could communicate properly because I do not know Spanish language, but the only communication I had is hugging. Just hugging and saying I'm sorry," said Senior Pastor Avani Christian.

More than half of the people displaced are now staying with family and friends, as the Red Cross works to help them find more permanent housing just weeks before Christmas.

West Chicago has also launched its own fundraising and donation efforts. To find out how to donate money or items to help those displaced, click here.