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Extra-alarm fire damages houses on Chicago's Northwest Side

Strong winds fuel fire on Chicago's Northwest Side
Strong winds fuel fire on Chicago's Northwest Side 01:45

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Gusting winds and hot temperatures complicated efforts to fight an extra-alarm fire in the Northwest Side's Jefferson Park neighborhood Tuesday night.

The fire spread to several houses on Laramie Avenue north of Foster Avenue.

Flames first shot through the rear of a house at 5247 N. Laramie Ave. – a bungalow with a large front porch that a real estate listing said dates back to 1918. The wind was so fierce that the fire quickly spread to the two houses to the north, and also charred a backyard tree.

Bill Wilson was in the house where the fire broke out, right when it happened.

"I was sitting the living room idly watching TV, and I hear this bang!" he said.

Wilson is house-sitting for his daughter and is in Chicago to receive cancer treatment.

"I'm feeling awful. I'm shaking," he said. "You know, it's a terrible experience."

The Chicago Fire Department called a 2-11 alarm for additional equipment and manpower. A 2-11 alarm brings 32 pieces of fire equipment and about 100 firefighters.

Chicago Fire Department

Firefighters attacked the blaze inside and out. Hoses were even brought to the upper level of one of the damaged homes and aimed out the window to try to contain the spread.

A Chicago firefighter was wheeled away from the scene in a stretcher but was alert and talking.

Neighbors who heard the explosion rushed to rescue the 91-year-old Wilson from the house at 5247 N. Laramie Ave. But the smoke was too thick, and the flames were too intense, to save a family dog that is believed to be dead.

"Whole back of his house blew off, and I heard, 'Pssh!'" said John Bryce.

Chicago Fire Department

Bryce was one of the neighbors who tried to help.

"He said his dogs were in the living room, so me and this other girl who was standing there said, 'Let's go get the dog out,'" said Bryce. "We opened the door - too much smoke. We couldn't get in there. We had to leave him in there."

Once the flames were out and the smoke cleared, there was some hope – as a family cat emerged from the badly burned home.

The cause of the fire was not known Tuesday night.

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