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Mayday called after firefighter trapped inside burning building on South Side

A mayday alert was issued after a vacant apartment in the South Side Gresham neighborhood went up in flames Friday morning, temporarily entrapping a Chicago firefighter and multiple squatters.

At 3:15 a.m., an abandoned duplex in the 7800 block of South Sangamon caught on fire after two women lit candles inside, according to Chicago police and Chicago Fire Department district chief Dan Cunningham. The women, 38 and 41 years old, woke up to the apartment ablaze on its north side.

The mayday was declared when the second floor pancaked onto the first with the fire still ongoing, leading to “a very precarious situation,” Cunningham said. Firefighters were working on the second floor during the collapse, which trapped one in debris for about a minute, but he escaped with no injuries.

The two women were taken in good condition to St. Bernard Hospital for smoke inhalation, authorities said. One had been taking up shelter inside the now-collapsed duplex, while the other lived next door. A 66-year-old man who resided in the vacant building was also displaced by the blaze, but he had left the residence prior to firefighters’ arrival.

No one was in custody early Friday as CFD investigated the fire.

Fire officials investigate a fire about 4 a.m. Friday, November 9, 2018 in the 7800 block of South Sangamon Avenue in Chicago. | Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times

Fire officials investigate a fire about 4 a.m. Friday, November 9, 2018 in the 7800 block of South Sangamon Avenue in Chicago. | Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times

Fire officials investigate a fire about 4 a.m. Friday, November 9, 2018 in the 7800 block of South Sangamon Avenue in Chicago. | Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times

Fire officials investigate a fire about 4 a.m. Friday, November 9, 2018 in the 7800 block of South Sangamon Avenue in Chicago. | Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times

Fire officials investigate a fire about 4 a.m. Friday, November 9, 2018 in the 7800 block of South Sangamon Avenue in Chicago. | Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times

Fire officials investigate a fire about 4 a.m. Friday, November 9, 2018 in the 7800 block of South Sangamon Avenue in Chicago. | Justin Jackson/ Sun-Times

Chicago firefighters respond to mayday alert in the 7800 block of South Sangamon. | Chicago Fire Department

Chicago firefighters respond to mayday alert in the 7800 block of South Sangamon. | Chicago Fire Department