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Firefighters rescue woman from blazing downtown Rock Falls building

ROCK FALLS – Firefighters pulled a woman from a second-floor window of a burning downtown building to safety early Friday.

Rock Falls Fire Department was called to 303 W. Second St. at 3:20 a.m., Fire Capt. Bill Milby said. It houses the office of dentist Karl Felker and two apartments. All three people in the building, including Holly Spatz, 20, were not harmed.

"Our dispatch stated there was a fire in the upstairs apartment with one occupant trapped," Milby said. "Upon arrival, we found the occupant of Apartment 2 East at the window, unable to exit her apartment because of fire in the hallway.

"Half her body was out the window, we could see her out the window," he said.

"The first door she went to, there was fire at the door, she closed that, she went to her front exit, opened that door and there was heavy black smoke," Milby said. "She saved her own life by closing her own doors."

A firefighter using a ground ladder got her out of her apartment, Milby said.

A Sterling firefighter was taken to CGH Medical Center for observation. and released.

The fire also woke the building's other occupants, Jennifer Hall and Brian Lopez; they were able to exit the rear of the building, Milby said.

When fire crew arrived, the attic above both apartments was in flames, Spatz's apartment was ablaze. The ceiling began to fall, making conditions inside "untenable," so firefighters moved outside to fight the fire. Then the second floor collapsed, which meant firefighters had to be "real careful about our access," he said.

Eight departments responded to the scene. The fire was under control in an hour and a half, Milby said, but crews were at the scene until 11:20 a.m. Friday.

The building and its contents are a total loss. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the State Fire Marshall's Office.

Spatz was with her family when firefighters left this morning, and the Red Cross is assisting all the tenants, Milby said.

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