CHICAGO -- Fire broke out high in a downtown office building last night, belching smoke and flames from windows as firefighters helped workers to safety through darkened stairways. Twenty-five people were injured, including a dozen firefighters.
Eight injured firefighters and five others were hospitalized in serious condition, said Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. The rest of the injured were treated for smoke inhalation or minor injuries, Langford said.
A spokesman for the Cook County medical examiner's office said it had not been notified of any deaths.
Langford said he had no reports of anyone trapped in the 45-story LaSalle Bank building on the Loop, but "we are still in the process of fighting the fire."
The fire on the 29th floor was reported about 6:30 p.m., said police Officer JoAnn Taylor. People who escaped said firefighters escorted them downstairs through the thick smoke.
Jim Rubens, who works for a law firm in the building, said he held hands with other victims as firefighters escorted them down a smoky stairwell.
"It was horribly thick smoke and the halls were completely dark," Rubens said.
Tom Smith, a lawyer, said a firefighter led him to safety in a freight elevator after smoke in a stairway turned him back.
"It's kind of scary. When I started seeing smoke in the hall, that started getting disconcerting to say the least," Smith said.
Sarah Nadelhoffer, a lawyer who worked on the 39th floor, said she was working late when her office started to fill up with smoke. "I was thinking it can't be over this way," she said.
"I also thought I have no control. I'm going to pray the Fire Department gets me out."
A 35-story building downtown owned by Cook County caught fire 14 months ago, killing six people.