CANARYVILLE — Edwin Perez was grabbing some milk for his little brother early Saturday morning when he heard a weird "cracking" sound — and saw flames.
"Then I looked through the window, and I saw a fire burning," Perez said. "I said, 'There's a freaking fire here!'"
The 12-year-old sprang into action. He alerted his family and neighbors who lived on the second floor of his Canaryville home. Then, he said he went to four other homes on the 4400 block of South Union Avenue to warn other neighbors of the blaze.
Firefighters struck out the fire about 11:20 a.m. Some pets were lost in the blaze, but nobody was seriously injured, and fire officials are thanking Perez for that. The fire department awarded the 12-year-old two medals for warning his family and neighbors.
Saturday afternoon, Perez smiled timidly as he showed off his medals to friends and family. He said fire officials called him a ''hero.''
"I feel great, like a hero," Perez said. "It feels great, super great."
The blaze erupted about 10:03 a.m. on the back porch of the home at 4425 S. Union Ave., Chicago Fire Department officials said. It quickly spread to three other two-story homes at 4421, 4423 and 4427 S. Union Ave., officials said.
Matthew Kara, 16, said he was woken up by family members warning him his home was on fire.
"I can't believe I was in there," Kara said Saturday afternoon, as he surveyed the damage from the street outside his home.
An emergency evacuation of firefighters was called shortly after the fire spread to the other homes, but after a roll-call was taken, officials determined no firefighters had been injured, officials said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
No other injuries have been reported, but affected families said some pets died, including two cats.
"I'm sorry," one firefighter said as he handed teary-eyed family members their cat wrapped in a white blanket Saturday afternoon.