LOCKPORT, Ill. – A five-alarm fire tore through a suburban Chicago hotel early Tuesday, killing at least one person, authorities said.
The fire broke out at the three-story Towpath Inn just before 4 a.m., according to the Lockport Township Fire Protection District. Firefighters from several communities battled the blaze in the century-old brick building for hours before bringing it under control later in the morning.
Battalion Chief Paul Hertzmann said at least one person was killed, but he did not have details on an identity. Two other people were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.
The cause of the blaze was unknown.
Authorities believe as many as 14 people were staying at the hotel. All but two had been accounted for by midmorning, said Fire Chief Rob Cronholm.
"We're not sure of the accuracy of the registry," he said.
Ed Zamora said he was sleeping in the second-story room, where he had lived about a week, when he heard people banging on his door and yelling. He had to rush out without any possessions, and "when I got outside, the whole roof was engulfed in flames."
"I'm very lucky to be alive for the fact that I was asleep, sound asleep, until all the yelling started," he said. "My alarm clock was not going to go off for another two hours."
Cronholm said when firefighters arrived, smoke and flames were pouring from the building, and crews had to run hoses from outside the downtown area to get enough water to fight the blaze.
"We didn't have enough water to fight the fire initially," Cronholm said. "Water mains downtown aren't quite what they should be for a water flow like this."
Lockport is about 25 miles southwest of Chicago. According to the city's Web site, its downtown is part of a historic district surrounding the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The canal was dug in the mid-19th century to link the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.