Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

A young woman staying in an illegal basement apartment in her family’s single-family home was in critical condition because of smoke inhalation after a fire Monday night during which firefighters rescued her.

“There was heavy smoke and fire visible in the basement area upon arrival,” said Steve Lenzi, spokesman for the Waukegan Fire Department, of the call at just before 5:30 p.m. at 1327 N. Jackson St..

“It was a very smokey basement fire,” Lenzi said. “We were notified of a person trapped inside in the basement. They did a heck of a job through smokey conditions.”

The fire started in a couch, but the cause is under investigation.

“Within 15 minutes of the call, we recovered the victim and had her on life-support in an ambulance,” Lenzi said.

The city building department was notified because it was an illegal basement bedroom. The fire in the couch was in a different area than the bedroom, Lenzi said.

“Nobody should be staying in a basement bedroom. It’s not a safe condition,” he said, adding there has to be access to a door or windows that are a certain height off the ground and large enough for a person to escape through.

“This is an old brick house with glass blocks in the basement windows, so they don’t even open,” Lenzi said.

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