An 85-year-old woman was critically injured when fire engulfed her apartment in a 7-story building in Schaumburg early Saturday morning.
Fire officials were alerted to the fire about 6 a.m. and found fire in an apartment on the fourth floor at 1234 Valley Lake Drive, north of Golf and Roselle roads, said Schaumburg Fire Department Battalion Chief Rick Anderson.
One woman who suffered second-degree burns on her chest was taken to St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates from the apartment where the fire started, Anderson said. The woman, age 85, was considered in critical condition and later transferred to Loyola University Medical Center for further treatment because of the severity of her injuries, said Schaumburg Battalion Chief John Steele.
"When I went out back you could just see bright orange," said Nichole Palmer, a 37-year-old resident of the building. "It just engulfed in that entire unit. In the course of a couple of seconds you could hear the windows breaking."
Palmer said she was awakened by the building's fire alarm and immediately smelled smoke. She escaped down a staircase and saw the fourth-floor unit below hers on fire. The fire department helped one person out of the building, she said.
Firefighters found heavy smoke on the fourth floor, but were able to keep the fire from spreading to the fifth floor, Anderson said. The fire started in the bedroom of to the injured woman's apartment, and was largely confined to the apartment, but the fourth floor was damaged enough that residents in the 15 apartments there would not be able to return today, and were being helped with housing by the Red Cross, Anderson said.
The fire was knocked out by about 7 a.m., Schaumburg Police Sgt. John Nebl said. By a little after 9 a.m., residents were still not being allowed back in the building, and as they gathered at the building's detached club house, where Red Cross workers were handing out coffee and doughnuts, one resident said.
Palmer said in the hours after the fire was put out, she could see firefighters on the sixth floor airing out apartments.
All Schaumburg fire companies from the suburb's five firehouses, and firefighters from about a dozen agencies helped Schaumburg with the emergency because the fire was raised to a second alarm, officials said. Outside agencies also helped police with traffic control.
Officials were still investigating the cause of the fire. Schaumburg Building Department officials were inspecting the building to see when residents might be able to return to the building, Anderson said.