CHICAGO – A veteran firefighter in Chicago died on Wednesday while battling a high-rise blaze, the second straight day that the Chicago Fire Department experienced the loss of a responder.
Lt. Jan Tchoryk, 55, died as he led a ladder crew to the 27th floor of the apartment building in the city’s historic Gold Coast district, the Chicago Tribune reported. Two other firefighters were injured, according to the newspaper.
On Tuesday, Chicago firefighter Jermaine Pelt, 49, died while responding to a blaze in Chicago’s West Pullman neighborhood, WBBM-TV reported. Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the two deaths on back-to-back days “unprecedented.”
Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt told reporters that Tchoryk had been on the stairs because the building’s elevators were not working. He collapsed on the 11th floor, the Tribune reported.
“This has been a tragic week for us,” Nance-Holt said during Wednesday’s news conference. “I can’t tell you how this impacts us, losing two members in two days.”
Nance-Holt said that Tchoryk had been with the department since 1997, WLS-TV reported. He was a veteran of Desert Storm in the U.S. Navy. His son just graduated as a Chicago police officer, according to the television station.
It was unclear what caused Tchoryk’s death, Nance-Holt said. Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford said it could have been due to a “medical emergency,” the Tribune reported.
“The wind didn’t help us,” Nance-Holt told reporters. “The wind drew the fire.”
“To have two go down this way, back-to-back, it’s very hard on the members,” Langford said. “It’s very hard on command. It’s just very hard.”
Crews began giving CPR to Tchoryk at the scene and brought him down to the lobby of the building, WMAQ-TV reported. He was taken to an area hospital, where he died from his injuries, according to the television station.
The building is a condominium and apartment complex with more than 260 units, WLS reported. There were no sprinklers on the 27th floor, fire officials said.
One of the two firefighters injured was released from an area hospital, the Tribune reported. The other firefighter was in serious condition but he injuries were not considered to be life-threatening, according to the newspaper.
Two residents were also injured, according to the Tribune.
“As I said yesterday, this job is dangerous,” Nance-Holt told reporters. “You never know if you’re coming home despite the training and the equipment that we can provide.”