Chicago Police Officer Edward Leighton just happened to be a block away when he heard a call for a fire at 1945 S. Drake.
Flames were shooting out from the third floor, smoke pouring from the windows– seeping through the brickwork.
People were trapped and he was the first on the scene.
Neighbors cheered him on as he ran in with no mask.
Terrell Haynes: “I was like whoa I hope he come back outside!”
The officer raced to the second floor and broke down Zabrina Washington’s door.
Zabrina Washington: “I’m grateful he came in and he came in like get out of the house! There’s fire.”
She gathered her six children, five dogs and cat– also telling Officer Leighton that her neighbors were still upstairs. So he rushed to the third floor but couldn’t get to a woman who was hanging out of a window, trying to escape.
“I couldn’t see anything. Couldn’t see a foot in front of me,” he said.
Forced to retreat– he went around the side of the building, he talked to her and kept her calm until firefighters arrived.
And when they did, thanks to Leighton, they knew exactly where to go in a very tricky rescue situation.
Chicago Fire Fighter Thomas Sweeney: “Hairs on the back of your neck kind of stand up. You got people trapped these guys hear it– their info was vital for us making these rescues.”
Cell phone video from a neighbor shows firefighters helping the woman down a ladder, also rescuing her son who had managed to escape to the roof of an adjacent building.
Both were treated and released from hospitals.
Officer Leighton said he just did what he had to do, “I’m just glad it made it out ok, no first responders were hurt. Just glad everyone will be able to see their mothers tomorrow.”