Firefighters rescue 3-year-old from apartment fire

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A three-year-old boy and his grandmother were rescued from an apartment fire on Chicago’s west side, Sunday afternoon.

It happened in the 2300 block of W. Van Buren St. It was the second fire at that building in St. Stephen’s Terrace and Townhomes in less than a week, fire officials said.

Arriving at the scene, firefighters raced up the stairs to the seventh floor unit.

“There was a grandmother outside the door saying her grandchild was in the apartment,” said Lt. Richard Molitor.

Firefighters forced the door open, running right into heavy black smoke.

“You’re going by feel, you can’t see anything,” said firefighter Ben Villa.

Villa says he found the boy unconscious in a bedroom. Firefighters believe the blaze started in the bedroom’s closet.  Villa scooped the child in his arms and raced back down the stairs, handing him over to paramedics.

“It’s scary because you’re holding someone’s life in your hands,” said Villa.

He has been on the job for nine years, but never had a rescue like this.

“The whole time I was bringing him down, I was telling him, you’re gonna make it. Fight, you’re gonna make it.”

The boy’s grandmother ran back into the apartment after firefighters and she also had to be rescued. Both were taken to Stroger Hospital. She was in fair-to-serious condition. The boy was in critical, but his condition had stabilized, said fire officials.

Villa says the rescue was a team effort and the result of their daily training.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The building’s alarms were going off in the hallway, but there were no smoke detectors in the unit, fire officials said.


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