Firefighters battle North Side high-rise blaze - My50 Chicago - Television - WPWR

Residents back in condos after North Side high-rise blaze

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

No one was injured when a two-alarm fire started on the 25th floor of a high-rise building in the North Side Lincoln Park neighborhood Thursday afternoon.

The fire started about 3:40 p.m. in the 2600 block of North Lakeview Avenue, said Fire Media Affairs Chief Kevin MacGregor. A second alarm and EMS Plan I were called after firefighters found a blaze on the 25th floor of the 42-story building.

The fire was contained to one apartment and no one was home in that unit at the time it began, a fire official said. No injuries were reported and initial reports of people trapped on the 15th floor proved unfounded.

"The fire was contained to one room, and the door to that room was shut, which prevented the fire from spreading," said a firefighter who asked not to be named.

"When we opened the door the whole room was in flames and flames were out the window," said the firefighter. "It took us about 15 minutes to knock it down.

"I couldn't tell you if it was a bedroom or a living room, everything inside was charred."

The fire was extinguished about 4:40 p.m., the fire department said.

Residents and people who evacuated the building recalled what they saw.

"The windows were open and out of the blue, I heard some type of explosion and glass breaking," said Clinton Jackson who was inside the building.

Kate Walsh was on the 24th floor--the same floor where the fire started.

"I just started to smell a little bit of a smoky smell and I started to hear all the sirens show up and park outside my building," explains Walsh. "When I looked out the window, I just saw black, billowy smoke."

Firefighers say breaking down the door made this an even more dangerous fire.

"Because this was a wind driven fire, where the wind is coming off the lake and hitting the window and becomes a blow torch," said Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago. "It was a fire that had a lot of potential for a lot of bad things going wrong, a lot of things went right at this fire."

"It's scary," said 86-year old Selma Florio, who lives on the 25th floor. "Someone was killed in a fire in an apartment near the 20th floor about 10 years ago.

The fire a decade ago involved an oxygen tank and a cigarette, Florio recalled Thursday afternoon as she stood outside waiting for the all clear to return to her apartment.

"I was lucky," she said. "I was doing laundry on the first floor. But if I'd been in my apartment I don't know if there would have been anyone to help me down the stairs."

The Fire Department says the building, built in 1968 does not have a sprinkler system.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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