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Off-Duty Firefighters Save Pet Owner, Dogs From Fire

By Heather Cherone | November 26, 2012 4:47pm | Updated on November 26, 2012 7:35pm

CHICAGO — Two off-duty firefighters kicked down the door to a Jefferson Park home engulfed in flames Monday and rescued a man who was trying to save his pets.

Firefighter Robert Arenas was picking up his daughter from a nearby elementary school Monday afternoon when he saw smoke and rushed to the home at 5033 W. Winona St. He and another off-duty firefighter pulled out a man who was taken to Loyola Hospital with burns, Arenas said.

“He was in bad shape,” Arenas said. “It looked like he was trying to put out the fire and save all of his dogs and cats.”

Four fire engines and four fire trucks fought the blaze after arriving on the scene about 4 p.m., said Chicago Fire Department Chief Pat Brennan.

Emergency crews pulled eight dogs from the burning home and gave some oxygen, but one could not be saved, the Chicago Fire Department said via Twitter. The dogs were taken to Forest Glen Animal Hospital, fire officials said.

After rushing toward clouds of billowing, black smoke, neighbor Michelle Rycraft saw dogs and cats covered in soot, some barely alive, being pulled from the home. She helped apply oxygen masks and keep the dogs warm, she said.

“We tried to save as many as possible,” Rycraft said. “There were a ton of animals inside. They were terrified.”

Brennan said the house was a “total loss” due to damage. The neighboring house at 5031 W. Winona St. was also damaged. The cause of the fire was unknown.