Incinerator Fire in Chicago High-Rise Injures Two

March 20, 2014
Six ambulances and about a dozen fire apparatus responded to an incinerator fire in a 24-story building on the South Side that hospitalized two people.

March 20--A small blaze in a basement incinerator sent smoke through a 24-story building on the South Side early Thursday morning, sending two people to a hospital with smoke inhalation.

The fire was reported about 4 a.m. in the high-rise in the 3500 block of South Rhodes Avenue in the Ida B. Wells / Darrow Homes neighborhood, fire officials said.

"The smoke generation caused a little discomfort to two people," said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.

The first crews to respond requested an Emergency Medical Services Plan 1, which brought six ambulances to the scene.

Aside from the equipment set up outside the building, about a dozen other trucks, engines and other rigs waited near 35th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The fire was small, Langford said, but high-rise fires require more firefighters because of operational changes in recent years.

"Stairwells are searched top to bottom. In the old days it was 'deal with the fire.' Now it's search and rescue gets equal footing with the fire, so you have more manpower for rapid ascent teams," Langford said.

Even small fires -- like the one Thursday morning and another one in the 400 block of East 33rd Street last month -- draw large responses.

Incinerators haven't been used for years but people still sometimes use them as trash chutes.

"You have to make sure it hasn't extended outside the incinerator area," Langford said. "And it's no longer used (as an incinerator) so there's sometimes all kinds of crap around them. Sometimes they become garbage chutes. They're not supposed to be that either, but it is what it is."

[email protected] -- Twitter: @PeterNickeas

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