Fire breaks out in Little Village building, 1 man injured

CHICAGO – One person was injured and several displaced Sunday after fire broke out in a Little Village building that had no smoke detectors, officials said.

It was just before 5:40 a.m. when the Chicago Fire Department responded to the two-story brick building, which residents say was functioning as single room occupancy (SRO) housing. After learning one man in his 70s was still inside, fire crews got him down the front stairs and into an ambulance. He wasn`t responsive at first, but by the time he arrived at Mt. Sinai Hospital he was alert, talking and in good condition.

Residents say smoke was billowing from the bedroom the man rented for $400 a month.

"The companies did a great job stopping the fire. We had a business on the first floor and individual units on the second floor. We had another person evaluated, but they refused transport and treatment," said Annette Nance-Holt, Chicago Fire Department.

Eddie Armenta moved into a one-room unit in the building just last week, and woke up to a strong smell Sunday morning, he said.

"It was a nightmare. I can`t believe this is happening, but I`m getting out," Armenta said.

Displaced resident Victor Gonzalez says he can`t imagine what would have happened if he were not already awake.

"I did not hear a smoke detector," Gonzalez said.

The building`s owner walked away when WGN asked about his smoke alarms, business license, and if his is one of the 66 licensed SROs in the City of Chicago.

"I just don`t want to comment right now," he said.

The Red Cross provided 13 displaced former occupants with basic supplies and a debit card to find other shelter.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.