Illinois Fire Traps Residents, Police

When firefighters arrived police were already in the building checking on residents


Fire raced through an apartment complex in north suburban Schaumburg overnight, trapping some police officers inside.

It happened at about 1 a.m. Saturday at the Valley Lake Apartments, which is a large 12-story, 360-unit building just north of Golf Road.

Investigators said the fire started in the building's garbage chute.

When firefighters arrived police were already in the building checking on residents. But the officers got lost in the smoke and had to use a radio to call for help.

"When we arrived we found several people reporting smoke on multiple floors of the building. And we also got a report that police officers, who had apparently arrived before the fire department, had made their way to upstairs, upper floors and had become lost in the smoke," Battalion Chief Ken Wood said. "We pretty quickly got them accounted for. They didn't need rescuing. We just had to account for where they were. They had to make their way back to the stairwell."

Investigators said a valve controlling the sprinklers in the garbage chute was turned off. That allowed the fire to quickly rise to several of the upper floors, officials said.

Some police officers had to be treated for smoke inhalation, but all the residents made it out safely.

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