OAK PARK Ill. (WLS) — It was an absolute inferno.
Video shows the orange flames engulfing the back four stories of stairs at an Oak Park apartment complex in the 200 block of South Maple Avenue early Friday morning.
Charred remains are left, with multiple units on four floors uninhabitable. Residents like Amber Taccoma were lucky to escape with their lives.
“They were ferocious. They were mean. They were bright,” Taccoma said of the flames.
Taccoma said she heard a commotion around 3 a.m., about the same time Oak Park Fire Department said the blaze began. Taccoma dashed to grab her dog, Milo, before heading to the courtyard.
“To turn the corner, and have flames and heat just hit you to the point where it almost knocks you over,” Taccoma said. “I felt the black smoke, and just the heat from it was, like, fierce.”
Taccoma was able to get out unscathed, but 11 residents are now left without a home and one 69-year-old woman was discovered inside her apartment by firefighters.
“From what I could see, there was no movement or anything. They were doing the paddles on her. They did put oxygen on her, and put her in the ambulance,” Taccoma said.
That woman was taken to Loyola Medical Center for smoke inhalation, and is now in critical, but stable condition.
Taccoma is now questioning the cause of the fire. The building security officer showed ABC7 a man, caught on video minutes before the fire started, walking toward the back of the building before quickly walking back toward the street.
“I was glad that I could stay level-headed enough to get out,” Taccoma said.
The Red Cross is helping the 11 people displaced by the fire, but a spokesperson for the Oak Park police and fire departments said they can’t comment on potential for arson in this case, although they said an investigation into the cause is ongoing.