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Smoking Deemed Cause of House Fire

Oak Lawn fire chief thanks residents for their outpouring of support for firefighters injured in Tuesday's house fire.

Oak Lawn fire officials determined the cause of a house fire on that injured three firefighters to be improper use of smoking materials.

At 8:50 a.m. Tuesday, a fire raged through a home on the 4900 block of West 99th Street. Fire officials on the scene said that the homeowner told he fell asleep while smoking a cigarette in a basement TV room.

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The homeowner and his dog were able to escape from the home after a neighbor called 911 to report smoke coming from the basement. The homeowner was treated on the scene for minor injuries.

The fire briefly touched off a mayday call when one of the firefighters went missing inside the burning house. Sheets said the firefighter’s air tank ran out of oxygen and he became separated from his crew.

Another firefighter sustained neck and back injuries when an object or another firefighter fell on him as they were attempting to evacuate the house.

Oak Lawn firefighters went outside to knock back the flames and returned to the house to finish extinguishing the fire.

Both firefighters were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center where they were treated for their injuries and released.

Sheets said both men are resting at home. The firefighter with the back and neck injuries is expected to be off work for four or five days; the second is expected to return to work on his next duty day.

A third firefighter was treated at the scene on Tuesday for a facial burn.

Photos of the blaze show smoke and flames pouring out of the home’s basement window.

Chief Sheets thanked residents for their outpouring of support for the injured firefighters.

“I as Fire and EMS Chief, would personally like to thank the citizens of this fine Village for the outpouring of support for the injured firefighters and department,” the fire chief said in an email.  “I have received numerous emails, phone calls and personal contact from citizens expressing their support, and for that, I am gratefully appreciative.”

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Don Hall November 08, 2012 at 05:50 PM
People never really appreciate firefighters until they need them. I grew up with my dad being an OL Firefighter, and I was proud of him every day.
Hank Scorpio November 08, 2012 at 09:39 PM
People really never appreciate firefighters until they need them? Are you serious? Yes those poor firefighters get no respect at all. The funeral was held for the firefighter that died in Chicago today. I saw pictures and it looked like about 3 people bothered to show up to pay their respects.
Anthony November 08, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Thank you for a fabulous job OLFD real Heroes !!!!
Lorraine Swanson November 09, 2012 at 07:20 AM
Hank, there was a three-hour wait at Capt. Johnson's visitation on Wednesday night. I can also assure you that many community members lined the Western Avenue to watch Herbie Johnson's funeral procession today. And I heartily concur about Oak Lawn's bravest.
AlfredfromChicago November 09, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I think what Hank was using was a bit of sarcasm. But some firefighters are not always appreciated until needed.. For example, Fire dept manning has been reduced over the last few years in Oak Lawn due to budget cuts. We can only hope that this doesn't get members of the dept or the public killed during various emergencies.

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