Chicago Attic Fire: Firefighter Maydays, Four Injured UPDATED

Eric Clark for the Chicago Tribune / August 25, 2011

Four Chicago firefighters have been injured while battling a fire in the city’s West Englewood neighborhood Thursday night according to news media outlets. The fire was located within a 1-1/2 story wood frame residential occupancy in which fire suppression operations were underway.

Fire companies operating within the attic area with attack lines operating, experienced rapidly degrading conditions in which published reports indicated the “room lit up” suggesting a possible flashover condition. It was reported that vertical ventilation had been completed on the gable style roof and that coordinated company operations were well established both on the number one floor, within the attic and on exterior support operations.

Research indicates the house was built in 1905 and has 990 square feet of space. Constructed of balloon wood framing, the 1-1/2 story single family residential occupancy is typical of this vintage style housing.

Division Alpha Street Side (Google Maps)


Aerial of House and Exposures (Google Maps)

A series of links and videos are attached;

UPDATED:Fire commissioner credits quick rescue: ‘It’s a matter of seconds ‘

Chicago’s fire commissioner credited the quick response of rescuers after firefighters were hit by a flash of flames while working in the attic of a home in theWest Englewood neighborhood. “It’s a matter of seconds before we would have had a different outcome,” Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff said at Loyola University Hospital, where two of the four firefighters injured in the blaze remained hospitalized.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune (HERE) The fire started in the basement of a 1 1/2-story home in the 7000 block of South Justine Street and spread through the walls to the attic, Hoff said. As firefighters ventilated the roof and worked to extinguish the blaze, they were not aware of fire burning inside the walls behind them, Hoff said. Flames suddenly “lit up on them,” he said. “This is an example of how extremely dangerous and unpredictable this job is,” said Tom Ryan, president of Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2. “There is no such thing as a routine fire.”

The two firefighters still hospitalized are a 52-year-old captain who suffered burns to his ears and back of the neck; and a 31-year-old firefighter with burns to his left hand and forehead. They suffered the burns when their masks were knocked loose as they tried to escape, Hoff said. Both are from Engine 54 and are stable, Hoff said.
A third firefighter who was taken to Loyola was released early this morning, and a fourth taken to Mount Sinai Hospital Thursday night. Fire Officials credited the Fire Department’s five-person rapid intervention team — which is routinely called to fires — for responding so quickly.

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Construction Insights for Typical Gabled Roof Attic with enclosed knee wall voids (typical examples)   Occupied or Storage Attic Space Enclosure



Typical Enclosed Attic Voids and Kneewalls







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