'Great work': Firefighters rescue 71-year-old woman from Des Plaines blaze

A 71-year-old woman was saved from a burning Des Plaines duplex by firefighters Wednesday morning.

The successful rescue effort was lauded by officials including Mayor Andrew Goczkowski.

"The city of Des Plaines is lucky to have some of the most brave and proficient emergency personnel," he said. "Great work."

A Des Plaines ambulance crew and an engine crew from the North Maine Fire Protection District discovered the fire on the 0-100 block of North East River Road about 6:30 a.m. while responding to a call about a woman struggling to breathe in the duplex, officials said.

The firefighters found smoke and flames coming from the duplex on arrival.

After speaking with dispatchers to confirm the caller was on the second floor, Des Plaines firefighters used a ladder to enter the home through a second-story window.

The North Maine team simultaneously started battling the blaze on the ground level.

Despite heavy smoke and low visibility, firefighters found the woman and got her down using the ladder, authorities said.

She was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge to be treated for smoke inhalation and was stable later in the day, authorities said.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze in less than 20 minutes.

The crews' actions earned praise from Des Plaines Fire Chief Daniel Anderson.

"The Des Plaines ambulance crew and the North Maine firefighters responding to this call encountered something completely unexpected," Anderson said. "Without any hesitation, they coordinated efforts, rescued the victim and saved her life while containing a dangerous fire."

The fire was contained to the first floor, but the entire building - including a vacant unit - was damaged by smoke and was rendered uninhabitable, officials said.

Damage was estimated at $150,000.

Two cats in the duplex where the fire occurred died, authorities said, but two others were rescued.

Firefighters from Wheeling, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights, Park Ridge, Niles and Morton Grove assisted on the scene and by covering local fire stations.

The Des Plaines Fire Department, Des Plaines police and the State Fire Marshal's Office are investigating.

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Fire department personnel walk through a Des Plaines duplex damaged by a fire Wednesday. Firefighters rescued a woman from the blaze. Courtesy of Des Plaines Fire Department
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