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One Dead, One Critically Injured In West Side Fire

CHICAGO (CBS) -- One person dead - another critically hurt - in a fire on the West Side.

This fire broke out about 5:45 a.m. in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Fire Department Spokesman Larry Langford says firefighters arrived on the scene a few minutes later.

"They were able to make removal of a man who was burned and suffered from smoke inhalation.

"He indicated there was another person inside. An aggressive search was continued. Unfortunately a female was found already deceased on the second floor."

One Dead, One Critically Injured In West Side Fire

The fire was in a vacant home in the 900 block of North Lawndale. Langford says the home had apparently been vacant for several years, and neighbors said the two people were squatters.

Langford said the cause appears to be, "open flame ignition of available combustibles," and was likely accidental. He said that the fire had started on the first floor.

The fire damaged a home next door belonging to a family of four. The home's owner says they have been complaining for years about drug activity by squatters in the vacant home.

"My fiancée has been calling, complaining about crack heads going in and out there all day and all night. They never did anything," said Donald Rivers.

Some neighbors believe the fire was only a matter of time.

"Just a few days ago, I was telling my sister, I said 'there are some squatters there and I hope they don't set the building on fire,'" said neighbor Leticia Segura.

27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett told CBS 2's Derrick Blakley his staff contacted police and the building department Thursday after residents complained about squatters in the building. He says his office helped place the building in court seeking demolition, but the process was taking longer than anyone liked.

The home had no electricity, gas or water. Both the injured man and the woman who died are believed to be in their 40s.

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