Families Recall Escape From Chatham Fire

The fire broke out at a four-story courtyard-style building near Cottage Grove

An early morning fire in a South Side apartment building sent four people to area hospitals, one with serious injuries, fire officials said.

The fire broke out at a four-story, courtyard-style building at 714 E. 82nd St. before 5:30 a.m. in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood. It quickly was elevated to a three-alarm blaze.

One woman's dog barked to wake her up just before her apartment went up in flames

"I woke up, and there was just smoke everywhere," said Meghan Irwin. "I jumped out the window."

Irwin jumped to safety, but as she and the other evacuated residents watched their apartments burn, she had something else on her mind: There was still no sign of the dog that may have saved her life.

"I couldn't get to my dog," Irwin said. "My dog is still in there. No one is helping me. They say my dog is not a priority, but he's a priority to me."

Cell phone video from a resident shows just how bad things were when firefighters first arrived.

"They had heavy fire throughout the 3rd and 4th floor window," said Fire Chief Michael Fox with the Chicago Fire Department's Special Operations Unit. "We had people hanging out the windows and we had one person who had already jumped."

One family had to be rescued from the third floor by firefighters on an extension ladder.

"We tried to go out the front and just the smoke and everything was just crazy so we tried to go out the back," the resident said. "Couldn't go out the back neither, so we climbed through the window."

After an excruciating wait, firefighters brought out Irwin's hero, named Blue, from the burning building.

"If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been able to jump out the window and stand here right now," Irwin said.

The cause of this fire is still under investigation, but authorities believe it started in a stairwell. 

A number of residents have been complaining recently about a neighbor stealing electricity by running a long extension cord from the stairwell inside their building. They worry it was this extension cord that started the fire, though this hasn't been confirmed. 

One person was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in serious condition. Two others were taken to Jackson Park Hospital and another to St. Bernard Hospital, all with non-life threatening injuries.

Contact Us