An extra-alarm fire at a Near North Side high-rise building was largely confined to the unit where it started because the apartment's resident remembered to close the door after fleeing the fire, according to the Chicago Fire Department.
Crews were called about 11:15 a.m. to a building in the 200 block of East Ontario Street, according to Larry Langford, a spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department. The fire was raised from a still and box alarm to a 2-11 alarm just before 11:30 a.m. Traffic around North Michigan Avenue north of the Chicago River was affected.
The woman who lives in the apartment, age 25, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in good-to-fair condition to be evaluated, Langford said.
When the fire started, the resident may have tried at first to put it out herself, but she soon left, shutting the door behind her, Langford said.
"That kept it confined to that unit," Langford said.
The woman went downstairs and told building management about the fire, and the Fire Department was called, he said. When firefighters arrived and went into the burning unit, windows blew out, but they were able to keep the fire contained, he said. Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire on the seventh floor of the 27-story building by about 11:45 a.m., Langford said.
Fire crews also called an EMS Plan I for the fire, automatically sending at least five ambulances to the scene, according to Langford. Several people were checked at the scene for smoke inhalation.
As firefighters put out the blaze, a mixture of smoke and water sprayed out of a sixth-floor window of the apartment building. A south-facing seventh floor window was broken and covered in soot, which extended up along the side of the building.
The mostly residential building also contains the Ron of Japan restaurant. Anthony Fraga, manager of the Pei Wei restaurant across the street, said he saw smoke billowing out of the seventh floor window around 11 a.m.
Mark Marshall, 54, lives in a fourth floor apartment. He said that when he initially smelled smoke, he opened his apartment door and “saw hoses laying in the hallway, but no firemen.” A while later, “smoke started pouring in” to his apartment.
Stefan Shine, 39, who lives a few doors down from Marshall, said he was getting out of the shower about 10:30 a.m. when he first smelled smoke. By the time he left the building, there was a “blazing fire coming out of the seventh floor,” Shine said.
Violet Elieff, 45, who works in a building across the street, said she saw flames coming out of the seventh floor window. “At first, there was tiny flames coming out of the window,” Elieff said. “All of a sudden, the flames got higher. Then the windows blew out, glass flying everywhere.”
In addition to the fire unit, two other apartments on the sixth floor also suffered some damage. The Fire Department used the building's garage as a warming center for displaced residents.
Tribune reporter Liam Ford contributedCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun