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Woman Leaps from Window to Escape West Side Fire

By  Geoff Ziezulewicz and Emily Morris | January 29, 2013 2:07pm 

 The burned-out house in the 1000 block of North Leamington Avenue.
The burned-out house in the 1000 block of North Leamington Avenue.
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DNAinfo/Geoff Ziezulewicz

AUSTIN —  A woman jumped out of a second-floor window early Tuesday in a harrowing escape from a burning Austin home, authorities said.

The fire broke out in a two-story house in the 1000 block of North Leamington Avenue about 4 a.m., and spread to the back porch of another home, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

A woman in her 30s jumped out the window to escape the flames, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

 The woman was taken to John H. Stroger Hospital in critical condition.

A man was taken in serious condition to West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park and two teenagers were taken to a local hospital in fair-to-serious condition with unidentified injuries, Langford said.

A neighbor said she saw several people jump out of the window, but the fire department could not confirm that.

The front yard of the house was covered with blood-stained glass Tuesday morning.

Reggie Gilmore, 57, said he was helping refurbish the first floor of the house and that the family he was doing the work for has two young kids.

Neighbor Alice Houston-Tarver, who lives across the street, said she awoke to screaming.

"I heard [someone] hollering, 'The building is on fire! Jump out!' said Houston-Tarver, 49.

She said she saw both adults and kids jump out the second-floor window to escape the inferno, but she wasn't sure who they were. The fire department said no young children were taken to hospitals.

A man jumped out of the window first, Houston-Tarver said.

"He made the rest of them jump, where all the blood is at," she said. "It was horrible. They were scared to jump."

Neighbor James Smith, 68, who lives next door to the building, said he was sleeping when his grandchildren woke him up.

One of the victims from the fire escaped, banged on Smith's window and alerted the grandkids, Smith said. Smith's window was cracked and covered in blood on Tuesday.

Smith said he could see the flames shooting out the back of the building from the front sidewalk.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, the fire department said.