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Firefighters rescue 7 trapped in NW Side blaze

Ricardo Flores. Photo/NVP Video

Ricardo Flores. Photo/NVP Video

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Updated: July 17, 2013 3:50AM

Firefighters rescued seven people, including a family, trapped by heavy flames and smoke on the second floor of a burning Northwest Side apartment building early Wednesday.

Flames leapt from a lower apartment while several people hung out second floor windows, calling to fire crews as they arrived at the three-story building about 12:30 a.m., said Commander Sean Flynn of the Chicago Fire Department. Firefighters encountered smoke as they helped the seven down a stairwell of the six-unit complex, at 3009 N. Harlem Ave., fire officials said.

Ricardo Flores of Little Rock, Ark. was among those trapped. Flores, who is visiting his parents on vacation, said the family was asleep when smoke crept into their second floor apartment.

“We were sound asleep and (my) father woke up and said there was a bad smell of smoke, so we tried to get out of the building,” Flores told reporters at the scene.

But when the family attempted to escape, they were forced back by intense flames at both the front and rear doors, he said, adding that the apartment’s smoke detectors didn’t sound until escape was too late

“The fire department … they actually rescued us,” he said, “Some vacation. I’ve been here only a week-and-a-half.”

Damage caused by the blaze displaced the building’s residents, though officials could not give an exact number of those who cannot return home.

Six people received treatment on the scene but declined to be taken to a hospital for further medical attention, fire officials said.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries at the scene of the blaze, which was extinguished a little after 1 a.m., fire officials said. The firefighter, who fell and hit his head, was listed in good condition, officials said.

The cause of the fire, which erupted in a room on the first floor, remains under investigation, fire officials said.

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