WEST GARFIELD PARK — Authorities are investigating a house fire that claimed the life of a man early Wednesday morning, officials said.
The house fire broke out sometime before 4 a.m. in the 4100 block of West Gladys Avenue, according to the Chicago Fire Department.
A 57-year-old man was found in the basement of the home, which didn't have a working smoke alarm, according to Officer John Mirabelli, a police spokesman.
The man went into cardiac arrest and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4:36 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office and the fire department. His identity was withheld Wednesday morning pending notification of his family.
Police have opened a death investigation into the incident, Mirabelli said.
Another man, who authorities say was 51, escaped via the back door as firefighters arrived, Mirabelli said. That man told firefighters that he was awakened by smoke and, after seeing that the basement door was open and a couch on fire, made his escape.
Audrey Redditt, 47, a resident of the building, had left the two-story home to go to the store. When she came back she was shocked to find the house ablaze.
"I was coming up the street and I saw the fire," Redditt said. "I was just screaming."
Redditt then screamed the name of her cousin, who was the man who escaped. He had escaped through the back of the building but went back in to save his Xbox and computer before escaping again, the cousin said.
Nora Millbrooks, 65, said she hollered "fire" when she saw the thick smoke coming from the home next door. The smoke was so think that she had to go back inside her own home to be able to breathe.
"You never think something so tragic can happen so close to you," Millbrooks said.
Residents of the burning building called the man who died "Gas Station" because he "used to hustle at the gas station" around the corner.
The man had lived in the building a couple of months, but lived his whole life in the neighborhood, residents said.
A firefighter was taken in good condition to West Suburban Medical Center, the fire department said.
The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear.