06/20/2007

Chicago officers save residents from fire

By Jason Meisner
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Two Chicago police officers rescued more than a dozen residents from a burning South Side building overnight.

Gresham District Officer Richard Griffin and his rookie partner, Officer Steven Sanders, were on their way to a call at about 1 a.m. when they spotted smoke pouring from the large four-story building at the corner of Halsted and 76th Streets.

"There was thick, black smoke coming from one of the units on the third floor," said Griffin, a six-year veteran who was training Sanders. "We proceeded to go in and start knocking on doors telling everyone to get out, floor-by-floor from the second to the fourth."

Griffin said he and his partner roused dozens of people, including numerous children, elderly and disabled residents and helped them find the exits. Most were still in their pajamas, he said.

"The smoke was bad on the upper floors. You couldn't see your hand in front of your face in the hall," Griffin said. They told residents, 'Whatever you have on, get out.'"

Firefighters responded and put out the flames relatively quickly, but the unit where the fire started was destroyed, Griffin said. Much of the smoke came from a sofa and mattress inside the apartment.

No one was injured, Griffin said. The fire did not appear to be suspicious, although the cause remained under investigation.

Griffin said the two officers never made it to the vice call, but running into a burning building made for better training for his partner.

"I told him this kind of thing happens every night," Griffin joked

Copyright 2007 The Chicago Tribune

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