Fire officials warn of winter hazards after multiple fires break out Sunday

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CHICAGO — With Chicago firefighters busy battling multiple blazes Sunday, fire officials are warning residents to watch out for unique hazards that can spark fires during winter months.

Just after 1 p.m. Sunday, a fire broke out in the second floor of a condo building near Wrightwood Avene and Mildred Avenue on the North Side.

The fire department says the unit's owners were not home, as they had just bought the unit and were preparing to renovate it. Residents on the first floor saw smoke coming from the second-floor unit and called 911.

Additionally, a fire broke out inside a vacant apartment on the fourth floor of a building on Wilcox in Garfield Park around 11:15 a.m. Sunday. The fire left seven children and five adults displaced, and sent a firefighter to Rush Hospital with a knee injury.

Firefighters also battled a house fire in West Englewood and a blaze inside a commercial building in Harvey on Sunday. In all these cases, the Chicago Fire Department command elevated the alarm level due to the extreme cold.

These efforts are particularly dangerous, officials say, because extreme cold poses unique hazards for firefighters. Fire hydrants can freeze, and conditions can be dangerous.

"The guys I worry about the most are the fellas that go to the roof; it's slippery, wet ice... guys in the roof are in peril," CFD Chief Tom Gustafson said.

Officials are sending a reminder to everyone on preventing fires this winter: don't use your oven to heat your home, and be mindful of space heaters near any combustible materials.

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