A Chicago Police sergeant was in critical condition Wednesday after running into a burning home on the South Side to save a disabled woman who apparently sparked the blaze with a lit cigarette and is also hospitalized in critical condition.
The sergeant, along with another sergeant and two officers, were flagged down by a man who said his home had caught fire and his family was still inside at 2:58 a.m. at 7950 South Muskegon Avenue.
The cops escorted the man’s wife to safety and attempted to reach the couple’s disabled daughter, who used a wheelchair and was located in a bedroom where “it appears the fire was the most intense,” police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Wednesday afternoon.
Firefighters arrived and took over the search.
“They knew she was in there somewhere because the father was screaming where she was located,” Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago said.
Firefighters found her unconscious, lying facedown under the rubble of a collapsed ceiling, Santiago said.
She suffered smoke inhalation and burns and was in critical condition Wednesday at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
The fire was apparently sparked by a cigarette the daughter was smoking, Santiago said.
Both sergeants and one of the officers who ran into the two-story brick home were taken to the same hospital.
The only first responder who remained hospitalized as of Wednesday afternoon was a 51-year-old sergeant who’d suffered smoke inhalation and remained in critical condition.
Concerned that his airway might swell shut from possible burn damage, doctors put a breathing tube down his windpipe.
“I ask that all Chicagoans come together and pray for that victim and for the sergeant who was among a group of heroes who ran toward the danger for the sake of others,” Johnson said.
“I just visited him in his room with his family, and they are very optimistic that he will make a full recovery,” Johnson said of the injured cop.
Johnson and Santiago spoke Wednesday afternoon at a news conference held at the hospital.
All four cops who first entered the burning home had been responding to an unrelated domestic disturbance in the neighborhood when they were alerted to the fire.
They work out of the South Chicago District police station.
The mother and father had unsuccessfully tried to remove their disabled daughter before the father ran outside to flag down the police, Santiago said.
The situation could have been much worse if not for working fire detectors that were inside the home, Santiago said.