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updated: 1/22/2013 5:32 PM

Chicago high-rise fire claims 2 lives

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Associated Press

Two men died Tuesday morning in a Chicago high-rise fire that injured one other person and drove some residents onto their balconies, bundled in coats and scarves amid single-digit temperatures.

Fire officials said the fire started on the seventh floor and was extinguished about 45 minutes later. Flames were visible outside a seventh-floor window.

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Deputy Fire Commissioner John McNicholas said firefighters conducted a floor-by-floor search of the 16-story condominium building.

Firefighters found one person collapsed in the lobby when they arrived. That person was in critical condition Tuesday afternoon.

A fire department spokeswoman said the two men who died were found on the seventh floor and were taken to hospitals where they were pronounced dead.

Officials were still investigating the cause of the fire Tuesday afternoon.

"The fire was brought under control relatively quickly," McNicholas said. The search took longer. "We did a systematic search not only of the stairwells and hallways, but also every single unit in the building. All 16 floors were thoroughly searched before fire personnel left the scene."

Elevators stopped working, so the firefighters had to climb stairs during the search, McNicholas said. Sixty firefighting companies responded, with nearly 200 firefighters on the scene, he said.

Frigid temperatures in Chicago, with wind chills dipping below zero, didn't hamper the firefighting effort.

"We didn't have any water problems which sometimes we'll get during this subzero weather," McNicholas said. "All the equipment performed without any incidents at all."

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