Firefighter Injured Battling Highrise Blaze


Updated: 12-14-2007 09:50:17 AM

By KAROUN DEMIRJIAN and ROBERT MITCHUM, Tribune staff reporters
Chicago Tribune



A high-rise fire in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood Thursday afternoon damaged several apartments but caused only one injury, authorities said.

One firefighter was hurt and was in stable condition, said Fire Department spokesman Will Knight. No injuries to building residents were reported.

A 3-11 alarm fire was called at the high-rise Gill Park Cooperative, at 810 W. Grace St., about 3:45 p.m., and was under control by 4:40 p.m., Knight said. At the peak of the fire, he said, about 150 firefighters and paramedics were on the scene.

Margaret Marti said she lives in the 19th-floor unit adjacent to where the fire broke out, but was not there when the fire began.

Marti said her neighbor, Nancy Hafferty, 67, was baby-sitting Marti's 7-year-old daughter, Lauren Fernandez in the unit where the fire started. The young girl heard an alarm and smelled smoke, and alerted Hafferty, who was in the kitchen.

They then alerted neighbors on the floor there was a fire before fleeing the building.

"We'll be fine," said Marlena Hafferty, Nancy's daughter and Lauren's aunt. "Everybody here made it out. Nobody died."

"My niece is the reason everyone is alive at this point," Hafferty said. "She knew how to dial 911. She learned it in school."

Fire Department investigators were looking into the cause of the fire, and no official determination is expected until Friday, Knight said.

Several other residents said they did not hear any fire alarms in the building.

"The only way I knew there was a fire in the building is that I smelled smoke, and then I saw some smoke," said Kenya McMillan, 27, who was in the building with her 3-year-old daughter Kayone. "When I looked out and saw all the firetrucks, I knew it had to be our building."

Brenda Stringer, who lives on the fourth floor of the building, also was unaware of the fire until she saw glass falling outside her window.

"I heard a lot of glass and a lot of loud popping, and I looked out my window and it was just raining black glass," Stringer said.

Residents took shelter from the cold in nearby restaurants and Faith Tabernacle Church. The city Department of Human Services and the Red Cross were on the scene, Knight said.

Residents were allowed Thursday evening to re-enter the building and their apartments except for units on the damaged floors.

Streets were closed near the building, near Broadway and Halsted Streets but were reopened later in the evening.

kdemirjian@tribune.com

rmitchum@tribune.com

http://cms.firehouse.com/content/art...7&sectionId=46