WEST CHICAGO, Ill. (CBS) -- Just weeks from the holidays, more than 100 people from 23 apartments in suburban West Chicago were displaced - afterdestroyed their homes Thursday.
It was the second time in as many years that fire has impacted the apartment complexes.
As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, doorbell surveillance video captured the intensity of the flames. That intensity reached the point where people jumped from their balconies to escape the fire.
On Thursday night, more than 100 displaced residents had to sleep on cots provided by the American Red Cross.
For the time being, nearby New Hope Methodist Church will be their new home.
"They're our neighbors," said Avani Christian, pastor of the New Hope Methodist Church, "and I think that's what we are called to do, is to open our hearts and minds and doors."
It was around 1 a.m. when the fire – which was believed to be accidental – ripped through a building at 813 Burr Oaks Dr. in the Main Park apartment complex.
The fire started on the second floor, and spread quickly – trapping residents in their units.
Six people were injured – including a firefighter and a pregnant woman.
Several people – such as the Mejia family – were left with no other option than jumping from the burning building.
"Yes, they jumped," Erika Mejia said through an interpreter. "They live on the third floor and had to jump."
West Chicago Fire Chief Patrick Tanner said the second- and third-floor balconies were in flames.
"That's why we had the jumpers, the people jumping out the windows because the fire was so intense so fast that they had to get out of the building," Tanner said.
Among those who jumped were the pregnant woman, and a 9-year-old boy – who was tossed down by family from the third floor.
"Our officer happened to be right there and kind of saw what was going on – jumped in," said West Chicago police Chief Colin Fleury.
West Chicago police Officer Steve Castro caught the free-falling 9-year-old boy before he hit the ground.
"He did an excellent job," Fleury said. "Trying to catch someone from three stories as they are being released by family members is not an easy task."
A firefighter was also treated at the hospital for a twisted knee. Several apartments in the 24-unit building are burned beyond recognition.
"The amount of fire on the second and third floor is incredible," Tanner said. "I've been doing this for 40 years, and this is one of the fires where you walk through and expect to see somebody very seriously injured and we are very fortunate that did not happen today."
Late Thursday, the organizations helping the more than 100 people who are displaced need financial donations more than anything. Metropolitan Family Services has set up this page for donations through Dec. 31.
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