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1 dead, 8 taken to hospitals in Chicago high-rise fire

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CHICAGO — Chicago authorities said one person has died and eight others were taken to hospitals Wednesday as firefighters responded to a high-rise apartment building fire on the city’s South Side, battling flames that leaped up 10 floors as snow fell.

Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt said the eight people taken to hospitals were all stable by early Wednesday afternoon. She said one firefighter had a minor injury but was doing well.

Sophia King, the alderman for the area, said the person who died was found in the apartment where officials believe the fire began. Authorities have not released further information about the person who died.

Video from outside the building in the Kenwood neighborhood showed bright orange flames on multiple floors before firefighters got them under control. Damage was visible from the ground, including blown out windows and a blackened building exterior.

The Chicago Fire Department said the fire was initially reported around 10 a.m. and was under control by 12:30 p.m. Nance-Holt said more than 300 fire and Emergency Medical Service workers responded to the blaze; the cause is still under investigation.

She said the fire began on the 15th level and lapped up to the 24th level, traveling from one floor to another as firefighters raced to stay ahead of the flames.

“They did an outstanding job,” Nance-Holt said. “It just went straight vertically, and they did everything they could to put that fire out.”

King said many of the residents of the building are older.

“I will tell you when I first walked up, I was aghast and my heart sunk,” she said. “But after talking to leadership, first responders, they have the situation under control.”

Barbara Joiner, a 69-year-old resident, stood outside the building with other neighbors as snow continued to fall. Joiner said she acts as a caretaker for another woman who lives in the portion of the building affected by the fire and was anxiously trying to reach her.

“Oh, my God,” she said, remembering her reaction to seeing the flames once she got outside. “These flames are still rising.”

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