Two men died Tuesday in a three-alarm high-rise fire in the South Shore neighborhood, a Chicago Fire Department spokeswoman said.
The fire, which began about 8:40 a.m. on the seventh floor of 6730 S. South Shore Drive, sent three people to hospitals in critical condition. Two of those victims died — one in his 30s and the other in his 40s, the Medical Examiner's Office said.
When the fire alarm bells began clanging Tuesday morning, Bridgitti Knox's first thought was to flee her 16th-floor unit.
Knox knew better than to try to take the elevator during the fire. So she headed for the stairwell — only to find it getting smokier and smokier as she made her way down.
"I didn't think I was going to make it out from the smoke," Knox, 55, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Knox was among the lucky ones. The fire was extinguished about 45 minutes after it began.
Knox was in the first-floor lobby thankful that she made it out without injury.
"I walked 16 flights. It was very scary. There was a lot of smoke in the stairway," said Knox, who covered her mouth with her hand on the way down. The smoke was thickest on the seventh, eighth and ninth floors, she said.
On the ninth floor, she heard a voice calling up from below.
"'Is anyone up there?!' I said, 'Yes,' and then he came up, took my hand and pulled me the rest of the way down," Knox said.
Unlike Knox, Christopher and Jewel Brooks remained in their 14th—floor unit until firefighters came to their door.
The couple heard the alarm and hesitated while they tried to figure out whether it was a false alarm. Then they saw smoke in the hallway.
Drawing on training from his job in high-rise construction, Christopher Brooks persuaded his wife to place wet towels in front of the door and open a window while they waited for firefighters in their bedroom. During the 30- to 45-minute wait, Christopher Brooks explained to her what was happening to calm her nerves.
"It was a lot of panic," Jewel Brooks said.
"She trusted me, so that was good," Christopher Brooks said.
During the fire, other residents could be seen on their balconies, wrapped in winter coats and scarves. Some could later be seen escorted away by firefighters. Displaced residents gathered in a nearby warming bus.
Two of the victims were taken to University of Chicago Hospitals, and another was taken to Jackson Park Hospital.
--Sun-Times, Sun-Times Media Wire
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