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Christopher Wheatley, Chicago Firefighter, DIES Battling Fire At Avec (VIDEO)

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A Chicago firefighter died Monday morning after falling 35 feet while battling a fire at a popular downtown restaurant.

Christopher Wheatley, 31, was climbing a ladder to the roof of Avec, 615 W. Randolph, when he fell, Fire Cmdr. Robert Hoff told the Chicago Tribune.

The incident happened about 12:30 a.m., and Wheatley was rushed to Stroger Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Wheatley was carrying about 75-pounds of equipment, including an ax, oxygen tank and hose, up the ladder, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The grease-chute fire he was attempting to extinguish at Avec was put out a short time later.

"We tried to save his life, but it was too late," Hoff told NBC Chicago. "He was one of our best," Hoff said, close to tears. "He was very well liked. He was a hard worker and he always had a smile on his face."

Wheatley worked for the CFD for ten years--first as a paramedic and as a firefighter since 2008. He is survived by his father, mother, sister and fiancé.

WATCH Hoff respond to the tragic incident:

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.