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One man jumped from a second-floor window and about a dozen other terrified residents were rescued by firefighters when a suspicious extra-alarm fire erupted at an apartment building in south suburban Dolton early Saturday.
Firefighters were alerted to a fire in the staircase of the three-story building at about 5 a.m. The building, in the 14400 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue has about 30 units, said Fire Chief Jerry McCullough.
"The whole staircase -- the first to the third floor -- was engulfed in flames," when crews got there, the chief said.
It caused heavy smoke conditions to billow throughout the building, causing one man to jump out of his window before fire crews got there.
"He bailed out the second-floor window," said McCullough.
The man was not seriously hurt but was taken to a hospital.
No one else was injured because crews immediately erected ladders and began helping 11 to 13 "terrified" people out their windows and down the ladders to safely.
"They were scared," said the chief.
Everyone else inside the building was able to move to the south end of the apartment building and stayed calm.
"Our police officers did a great job too," he said.
The fire is suspicious, according to the chief.
"It’s strange that it started there... in a staircase," McCullough said. The blaze was elevated to a second and third alarm before it was controlled about 6:45 a.m.
The fire caused heavy smoke damage but residents will be allowed back inside.
The chief said he does not remember any other fires at that address and said it is a very well managed building.
The American Red Cross disaster action team was on the scene determining the needs of those affected and was providing food, clothing and shelter to anyone affected, according to an emailed statement .