Carolyne Mak woke up in her West Laskey Road apartment yesterday coughing but initially dismissed it because she's getting over a cold.
Moments later, Mrs. Mak opened her bedroom door and was overwhelmed by smoke.
"I saw flames coming from the wall between the kitchen and the dining room," Mrs. Mak said. "I ran out the door and was knocking on doors as I was screaming."
The fire department responded to the call at 3353 West Laskey Rd., just west of Secor Road, about 2 p.m. The blaze was put out within minutes, and nobody in the 24-unit building was hurt.
Battalion Fire Chief Frank Keating said the cause was an overloaded extension cord found under a cabinet. The flames followed the cord into the outlet, and the fire broke out behind the wall. Firefighters doused the flames before it spread to the roof, he said.
The fire forced residents into the building's parking lot. There, some residents cuddled their terrified cats, while others called family and friends on their cell phones.
Sandy O'Kelley was home when her 16-year-old daughter said she smelled roasting marshmallows. Ms. O'Kelley, who lives below the Maks, said she saw smoke coming from her vent.
"That's when I heard the screaming. Someone was saying, 'Get out,'●" she said.
Chief Keating estimated the damage at about $60,000.
He warned people to avoid loading up extension cords and if the power flickers, don't assume it's caused by something outside. "Don't take a chance," he said.