Wednesday, December 22, 2010



Two firefighters died after a wall collapsed during a 3-11 alarm fire at an abandoned South Side commercial building this morning, authorities said. Fourteen other firefighters were injured, including two who were trapped with the ones who died.
Police squad cars escorted two ambulances north on Lake Shore Drive to Northwestern as ramps were closed to clear it of traffic, according to fire communications. One of the firefighters taken there has died, sources said. The condition of the other one was not known.
A third trapped firefighter, later identified as Corey Ankum, who had been with the department only 16 months, was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he died.
Late this morning, dozens of firefighters stood at attention, removing their caps and saluting, as Ankum's body was taken from the hospital and put in an ambulance. A police escort led the ambulance to the medical examiner's office.
A similar procession with a dozen department vehicles left Northwestern shortly after noon with the body of the firefighter who died there.
The fourth firefighter buried in the rubble, and as many as 12 other firefighters with undisclosed injuries, were also taken to hospitals. Fire officials and sources said 10 were stable and six were taken to hospitals in serious to critical condition, including the two who later died.
Four of the firefighters were taken to University of Chicago Hospital, where they were listed in fair condition and were expected to be released later today, said hospital spokesman John Easton.
The firefighters' deaths came on the 100th anniversary of a huge fire at the Union Stockyards that claimed the life of 21 Chicago firefighters, the single greatest loss in U.S. history of professional big-city firefighters until Sept. 11, 2001.
A dozen or fewer firefighters were in the building when the roof above them collapsed, said Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. Firefighters searched through rubble for more than an hour as four trapped firefighters were pulled out and rushed to hospitals.
"They worked hard, got them out fast," said Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff at the scene.
He said the search was continued, with dozens of firefighters digging through rubble, because of the possibility that homeless people may have been in the building seeking shelter from the cold. Neighbors reported that squatters have been staying in the building, but no others were found in the rubble.
Firefighters -- their faces and uniforms covered in soot -- shook their heads as they embraced one another after the search was called off.
At Northwestern, about half a dozen police cars and several fire vehicles were parked in front of the emergency room. Truck 122 pulled up and three firefighters walked in, including a lieutenant. One firefighter from Truck 122 was on a cell phone and wiped away tears with his jacket.
Robert Smart, owner of the Smart Bros. Car Wash and Detailing next door to the burned building, said he arrived at his business at 7 a.m. to find the block swarming with firefighters.
He saw two people being brought out on stretchers, followed by two firefighters. He got a good look at one fireman. "He looked pretty bad," said Smart, adding the firefighter did not appear conscious.
Rescuers appeared to be trying to revive the injured firefighter in the middle of the street as they waited for an ambulance to arrive.
Jorico Smart, who with his father Robert have owned the car wash for 16 years, said he has called police at least a dozen times in recent years to report people trespassing in the abandoned building next door.
Smart characterized the trespassers as squatters. Last month, Smart's brother called police to report a break-in.
Chuck Dai, who co-owns the building with a younger brother, said he has been struggling to keep squatters from entering ever since his laundry business at the site failed about six years ago and he stopped paying property taxes on the site.
"It's been a tiresome battle just to keep it buttoned up and everything," said Dai, 61, speaking from another laundromat he owns nearby.
Though the property has been boarded up several times, he said, "somehow they managed to break in."
Dai said he had no idea how the fire started. He learned about the dramatic rescue attempt and the death of two city firefighters while watching the morning news in horror, he said.
"I'm pretty down right now," Dai said, his voice growing hoarse with emotion. "I'm at a loss for words about the whole situation. I feel bad about the firemen getting hurt."
The fire broke out about 6:54 a.m. in the abandoned one-story brick building in the 1700 block of East 75th Street.
The fire was raised to two and then three alarms to save the trapped firefighters. A "mayday" was called. Firefighters also reported having problems with frozen hydrants.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.


  1. It's something I've tried to explain to people about service that is rarely understood by anyone that has never put on a uniform.

    It takes a special type of person to stand for something greater than themselves; to sacrafice everything for the sake of others; to run in the direction of shots fired or run into a burning building; and to fight on foreign lands to keep us safe.

    God bless all who serve.

  2. Mayor Daley will come from New York City and cry his eyes out over the dead firemen.

    This is the same PRICK that said "let their pensions go bankrupt".

    May this BASTARD burn in hell.

    RIP Brothers

  3. I'm saddened that we lost some more good people today.

    I blame the cities lack of leadership, the playing of politics, and lack of accountability for as the political leaders are the ones that create the environment in which we live.

    Our actions or inaction are all connected. We do not live in a vacuum. More cops on the beat may have prevented this tragedy.

    Instead the money is spent on enriching the politicians.

    The people of Chicago are getting what they tolerate and we lost some good people today. But hey the mayors going to Casablanca on another foreign jaunt isn't that nice?

    Have you done the right things Mr Mayor? Have you done everything possible to make us a better place to live?

    How about all you aldermen out there eh? You too! The blood is on your hands.

    Or all you all too busy lining your pockets and those of your friends with sweet deals?