AVONDALE — A Chicago Police officer on her way back to work at O'Hare Airport rushed to the aid of residents of three burning apartments in Avondale on Tuesday.
Officer Jennifer Jacobucci saw the plumes of smoke that had already engulfed 2720 N. Campbell Ave. around 12:30 p.m. as she returned to O'Hare from a trip to police headquarters near the end of her shift.
By the time she got to the block, a second home was filling with smoke as the fire spread. While she was far from her assigned district, Jacobucci said she acted on instinct, entering the building and shouting for residents to get out, despite the searing smoke and heat.
"We're all police officers," she said. "It doesn't matter where stuff is happening in the city. If you see something going on, I would hope everybody would step up to the plate and do what they need to do."
A fire severely damaged three homes in the 2700 block of North Campbell Avenue on Tuesday. [DNAinfo/Paul Biasco]
In the end, Jacobucci helped three residents and their three dogs escape as firefighters arrived on scene.
"Being scared never even crossed my mind," she said Tuesday evening. "Everybody was starting to gather their possessions, but that's not really the important thing. We got everybody out safely."
It took about 30 minutes to strike out the 2-11 alarm fire, which damaged three buildings total. Unattended cooking in the middle home sparked the flames, the fire department said.
The Chicago Police Department shared video of Jacobucci describing the incident:
A firefighter injured Tuesday has already been cleared to return to duty, the department said Wednesday afternoon. Jacobucci was also treated for smoke inhalation. No one else was injured.
"After I stepped back and saw how destructive the fire was and saw the fire department take over, I would not want their job," Jacobucci said lightly.
One dog in the first building died in the fire, while a second, 17-year-old dog was injured but getting treatment. Jacobucci, who owns two Chihuahuas, said she was still relieved "everybody got out of there," although it was an unfortunate event.
After the fire was extinguished, Jacobucci said she checked in with the families to make sure they had a place to go.
"A lot of those people's lives will be disrupted," she said. "But making sure everybody is out safe and well is the biggest priority."
Last year, a two-alarm fire in Avondale took two hours to extinguish in the complex at 3057 N. Rockwell St. While Metropolis Coffee's new roastery and the future site of Metropolian Brewing were not harmed, the undeveloped half of the building was seriously damaged.
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