CHICAGO — Four firefighters were taken to an area hospital after suffering injuries battling an apartment fire in South Chicago.
Two were taken to Advocate Trinity Hospital with smoke inhalation, and two were transported to Trinity with minor injuries after a stairwell collapsed. One firefighter suffered an injured eye, and another had neck and back pain. All are in good condition, fire officials said.
The blaze, at 9041 S. Muskegon, began in the basement of the three-story apartment building around 8:40 Saturday morning. It soon consumed the first and second floors. When a stairwell collapsed, a mayday call went out.
But all firefighters were accounted for, and those who were transported had only minor injuries.
The fire was extinguished by 9:40 a.m.
More than 25 fire and police trucks lined the streets as dozens of firefighters worked on the smoldering three floor apartment building.
Neighbors stood in the park across the street snapping photos and taking video of scene.
Marvin Gilmore, 23, stood across the street and watched as firefighters worked on the smoldering building he called home.
Gilmore said he lived on the second floor of the building and was in his apartment with his mother and grandmother when the fire broke out.
"Once we realized there was smoke, I went to go check downstairs," he said.
Gilmore said he saw "big flames" by the front door of the building blocking the way out. He said he managed to make his way through the basement apartment to the back entrance of the building.
"I had to go through the basement apartment, and walk through there and kick the back door in, so we could have a way to get out," Gilmore said.
He said he was able to get his mother and grandmother out of the building through the back door.
Gilmore said his family had only been in the building "less than a month" and said they were the only ones living there. The basement apartment was unoccupied, he said.
A man leaning on a cane surveyed the scene from the corner of Muskegon Ave. and 91st St. The man, Salvador Reyes, said he had been inside the building last week to see the basement apartment. Reyes said he was considering renting it until he saw the apartment.
"I wouldn't give them $50 for it," he said, explaining the unit was shabby.
"I guess it's good luck I didn't rent it," Reyes said.