AUBURN GRESHAM — The porch roof of a burning South Side home collapsed on two firefighters early Tuesday, sending them crashing through the floor and into the basement.
The two suffered only minor injuries to their legs and were taken to Little Company of Mary hospital in good condition, officials said.
Crews were called out to the blaze in the 8800 block of South Parnell Avenue in Auburn Gresham just before 4 a.m. Tuesday, fire department spokesman Larry Langford said.
The two injured firefighters were entering the building from the front porch when the roof collapsed on them, Langford said.
“Just like a hammer hitting nails, it drove them through the floor,” he said. “That’s a fast drop, to be put down by burning wood.”
Other firefighters quickly reached them and got them out, he said.
Thankfully, the basement wasn’t ablaze at the time, Langford said.
“It could have been much worse,” he said.
The fire was out at the old abandoned house where it began by about 4:30 a.m., as was the blaze in a neighboring house that caught fire from the radiant heat, Langford said.
Langford said the fire's cause may have been squatters trying to heat the residence.
Next-door neighbor Ezell Strong was woken by the blaze and its response.
He said he watched the two firefighters enter the porch, then suddenly disappear as debris fell on them and they went into the basement.
“You saw their heads come back up,” he said. “Still, that’s a fall.”
Strong, 56, a supervisor at O’Hare airport, said a large family had moved out of the house a few weeks back and that he did not know if squatters had called the residence home since then.
“Around here, if it’s a vacant house and there is access, people will go in and out,” he said.