LAKEVIEW — The smell of smoke from a blaze in Lakeview had neighbors running to a burning house to help a wheelchair-bound woman escape.
The fire started on the back porch of a 2-1/2-story home at 3726 N. Bosworth Ave. Thursday evening. The fire spread to the back porch of the building next door, where firemen broke the attic window to let out smoke. No one was injured.
Husband and wife Marie and Frank Guttila have lived in the home since 1967, Frank said. He had just returned from the hospital, where the doctor told him he needed to be on an oxygen tank for three days, he said. He was in the home with his wife, Marie, who is confined to a wheelchair, and two women who assist the couple.
Three tenants that lived on the top floor came down and told the Guttilas to "get out," Frank Guttila said.
A few homes down, Ann Freeman and her husband were grilling in the back yard when they smelled smoke, she said. Her husband and others on the street went over to help Marie Guttila out of the house, Freeman said. Many neighbors help take care of the couple, she said.
"We saw the flames shoot up," she said. "It was going fast."
Frank Guttila was able to escape the home under his own power, he said.
Freeman than went to pound on the door at 3724 N. Bosworth Ave. A single man who lives there was able to get out safely, while another tenant of the home was not present.
As firemen worked, Frank and Marie Guttila stayed inside Freeman's home. The couple will be staying with their daughter, Frank Guttila said.
"I'm depressed," he said of the damage done to his home.
A crowd of passersby and area residents filled the streets to watch firefighters work. Jessica Scanlon said her home two doors down from the Guttilas' did not catch fire, but officials told her to leave immediately.
Scanlon grabbed her and her boyfriend's laptops, some sentimental items owned by her father and two paintings by her roommate's late grandfather. She could see the "orange-ish red" reflection of the fire when she went in her home, she said.
She watched from across the street with a backpack on, saying that once firemen were able to vent smoke from the home, another flame "burst" up.
"It was terrifying," she said.
Fire crews were still investigating the cause Thursday night and were still putting out another burst of flames as late as 8:20 p.m. Tenants told the Guttilas a cigarette caused the back porch to ignite.