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Elderly Man Dead, Second Man Critically Injured In Lawndale Fire

CHICAGO (CBS) -- An 86-year-old man died and a 62-year-old man was critically injured in a fire early Tuesday in the Lawndale neighborhood.

The fire started around 1:30 a.m. on the top floor of a three-story apartment building near Keeler and 5th avenues.

The fire was extinguished by 2 a.m., but firefighters found an 86-year-old man dead inside an apartment, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

That man's friend, 62-year-old George Saunders, barely got out with his fiancée. Saunders suffered smoke inhalation, and went to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition.

His daughters said he was under sedation, and needed a tracheotomy.

The building's landlord said the man who died was not a tenant in the building.

"I understand that he was visiting," Walker Harris said. "We've got a couple families still sitting out here in their cars, waiting until the fire marshal tells them what they can do. Half the building seems like it's not interrupted, but this side here is shot."

Ora Brown, who lives in the garden apartment, made it out safely with her fiancée.

"I was asleep, and my fiancée said 'Wake up, wake up, it's a fire!' and we just came out and got in the car. … We all got out okay," she said. "I'm blessed, and my grandkids. We're all blessed."

Despite temperatures near zero, firefighters didn't have to deal with any frozen hydrants or slips and falls. No firefighters were injured.

The Police Bomb and Arson Unit was investigating the cause of the fire.

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