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Three people hospitalized from scene of Chicago high-rise fire

Three people injured in Uptown seniors' high-rise fire
Three people injured in Uptown seniors' high-rise fire 02:25

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Three people were seriously injured late Tuesday in a fire at a Chicago Housing Authority seniors' high-rise in the Uptown neighborhood.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, the Chicago Fire Department said a working sprinkler system played a big role in putting out the fire. With any high-rise fire, there is a concern of smoke rising – and that worry intensifies in a senior living facility.

The fire broke out late in the afternoon at the Ella Flagg Young Apartments, a Chicago Housing Authority seniors' development at 4645 N. Sheridan Rd.

Hours later, dozens of seniors were huddled in the lobby of the building to stay out of the cold.

"They encountered heavy smoke within the stairwell, and we had a fire in a fourth-floor unit," said CFD Deputy District Chief Shun T. Haynes.

Two of the victims were found on the fourth floor just after 5 p.m. The fire is believed to have started in one of the units on that floor.

Two people were rushed to the hospital in serious-to-critical condition, while the third was in good condition. Two of the patients were being treated at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center Tuesday night.

"If you want to go up, you have to go by the stairs," said building resident Rosebud Kuna.

Kuna lives on the 12th floor of the building, and said using the stairs to evacuate only complicated the chaos.

"The building – elderly people occupy the place," Kuna said, "so if something like this happens it will be difficult for them to get down."

Berenice Taylor, a caregiver at the building, said she saw paramedics attempting to save one of the victims.

"I smelled the smoke, and saw it in the air," Taylor said. "I just saw them trying to resuscitate a lady, and I heard another man was down."

The CFD said the smoke did not spread throughout the building due to working sprinklers in the hallway – possibly saving lives.

"We had very little smoke on the fire floor and floor above," said Haynes, "That's going to be a big concern of ours in a high-rise building, is that the smoke is going to go up."

Late Tuesday, the CFD was still investigating what caused the fire. We are told most of the residents will not be displaced.

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