EDGEWATER — One person was critically injured and several others — including a firefighter — suffered minor injuries after a five-story apartment building caught fire in the 5800 block of North Sheridan Road Wednesday morning, officials said.
As many as 150 fire and medical personnel responded to the scene, said Deputy Fire Commissioner John McNicholas.
The fire broke out about 11 a.m. and left residents trapped in their apartments, he said.
"There was heavy smoke that ensued," McNicholas said. "As those first companies pulled up and as they started deploying, people started popping up in the windows, saying they were trapped."
Fire department ladders were seen propped against the windows of many of the apartments.
The building was completely evacuated, but McNicholas said most of the fire was contained to a second-floor apartment and most of the residents would be able to move back into their homes Wednesday.
McNicholas said seven people were taken away in ambulances, including a firefighter who suffered minor injuries. One of the injured, who is believed to have lived in the apartment that caught on fire, is in critical condition, he said.
Witnesses said a dog was also rescued from the building.
He said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
Firefighters blocked off all four lanes of Sheridan Road to battle the blaze.
Jacklyn Cacom crawled out of the building from her third-floor apartment, she said.
"I opened the door and there was smoke everywhere — It was a nightmare," she said in tears alongside her daughter, Sheena Kelly, who also lives on the third floor of the building.
Cacom said she couldn't see anything as she called out to the eight or nine residents behind her, in hopes they would hear her voice and find the exit.
Cacom and her neighbors eventually located the exit; now she just needs to figure out what to tell her two younger children when they get home from school, she said, gazing up at her burned-out apartment.
Adam Redarth, who lives on the second floor of the building, said he tried to keep his neighbors from jumping out of their windows as they were overwhelmed with smoke.
Thankfully, he said, nobody did.
"I asked them please don't jump until you have to jump ... wait, the fire department will be here soon," he said.
He said the flames reached the third floor before the fire department arrived.