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2 die, 2 firefighters hurt in fire; neighbor helps others to safety

Dominic Masciopinto, 17, knocked on neighbors doors to alert them of the fire Friday evening. I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Two people were found dead inside a vacant building that caught fire Friday night on the Northwest Side, and two firefighters were injured fighting the blaze.

But it’s possible the injury toll might have been higher if it wasn’t for neighbor Dominic Masciopinto, 17.

Dominic said he saw smoke and flames shooting 15-feet into the air from the second floor of the vacant building around 8 p.m. on the 2400 block of North Marmora. He went over to the house right next door, where he saw the fire had apparently spread to the back.

“Off of instinct, I was knocking on windows, pounding on doors, nobody was answering the door so I knocked the door in,” said Dominic, a junior at Steinmetz High School.

Dominic helped three people – including a sleeping Charles Brantley, 18, his aunt and grandmother – get out of the house.

“He came and got my grandma and then my grandma came and got me,” Brantley said. “That’s when we tried to clear everybody out.”

There wasn’t any major damage apparent at the neighboring house later Friday, but Brantley was still grateful.

“I want to thank him. I could have still been sleeping,” he said.

The two victims of the fire at the vacant building were not immediately identified.

Fire Department District Chief Timothy Sampey said the fire appears to have started on the second floor of the 2½-story frame building, where the bodies were found. The fire also spread to an attic.

A police source said a barbecue grill was found inside the vacant building, and officials are investigating whether it played a role in the fire.

Dominic’s father, Dino, said squatters had pulled up boards to get into the building and would sleep in the back.

“We’ve been trying to get the alderman and bank to tear it down, but they wouldn’t do it,” Masciopinto said. “Sometimes the cops would come and kick them out and they go right back inside.”

The firefighters suffered minor minor injuries and were taken to Our Lady of Resurrection Hospital.

Contributing: Michael Lansu