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A Chicago fire captain has died from injuries suffered while battling a South Side house fire, the first firefighter to die in the line of duty in nearly two years.
Capt. Herbie Johnson (l) with Commissioner Jose Santiago in CFD picture.
Captain Herbie Johnson, 54, was a 33-year veteran of the department. He had just been promoted from lieutenant this summer during a ceremony at Navy Pier.
Fifty-four-year-old Captain Herbert Johnson died while being treated at the ER of University of Chicago Hospitals.
Johnson celebrated his 33rd year on the job in February and had been recently promoted to captain.
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Fire department spokesman Larry Langford said Friday’s fire was in the attic of the two-story frame house. He said the firefighters were injured during a possible “flashover” of flames.
Image from suntimes.com of Capt. Herbie Johnson from 2006 fire. Click here for the paper’s coverage.
“He was the best, he was the best guy,’’ said Chicago Fire Dept. Lt. Steve O’Malley who was relieved by the 54-year-old Johnson this morning about 6 a.m. from Engine 123, Tower Ladder 39, on 51st Street after O’Malley had worked the 48 hour shift.
“He was his usual crazy self, laughing,’’ said O’Malley of the Johnson. “He always had a smile on his face,’’ said O’Malley, whose voice was quaking with emotion during a telephone interview after hearing the news from another firefighter that he passed.
The 2-11-alarm fire was in the attic of the two-story frame house.
A “mayday” call went out during the fire, which began in the attic and spread, a fire spokesman said.
Fire Dept. spokesman Larry Langford said the firefighters were injured during a possible “flashover” of flames.
Johnson died at the U. of C. emergency room. Paramedics had to perform CPR on him at the scene, said Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.
Johnson was assigned to Engine Co. 123 in Back of the Yards for the night, but normally worked from firehouses all around the city.
As Ahlheim spoke near the hospital tonight, Chicago Fire Department Truck No. 16 sat at the corner of 58th Street and Drexel Avenue with its ladder extended to mid-air and the roar of its engine sounding, a ritual saluting fallen brethren. A firefighter hoisted the American flag atop the ladder.
Below are tweets about the fire from CFD spokesman Larry Langford (@CFDMedia)