On Monday, May 20 2013, West Chicago Mayor Ruben Pineda and Police Chief Laz Perez recognized two West Chicago residents for their actions after a neighbor's house caught fire. They presented the two with the first ever Citizen Life Saving Award at the City Council meeting in front of council members, family, friends, and the grateful family they helped save.
Residents Jessie Schram, 22, and James O'Grady, 16, were at home on the afternoon of April 4, 2013, when they noticed smoke and flames coming from their neighbor's house at 2485 Alamance Drive. Jessie and James ran to the neighbor's house and alerted them to the fire. They then helped evacuate five members of the Martino family and their pets, some of whom had been sleeping and were unaware of the fire.
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Homeowner Frank Martino spoke to the council and audience. He said that because of the fire's origin, the fact that it had spread to the attic and the gusty winds that day, the smoke detectors in his home had not activated. None of his family members were aware of the growing danger. Moments after Jessie and James helped his family escape, there was an explosion and the entire home was engulfed. Mr. Martino acknowledged and thanked the two for saving his family's lives.
Police Chief Perez commented, "The City of West Chicago and the West Chicago Police Department extend a warm thank you for your heroic actions and selfless acts, which saved the lives of members of our community." He presented each with a plaque and letter of recognition. Mayor Pineda echoed the chief's gratitude on behalf of the City Council and the entire city.