Neighbors of a man who was critically burned when his house caught fire in Chicago's Jefferson Park neighborhood Monday afternoon said the victim, who owned at least 10 dogs, was a hoarder.
"They rescued eight. I saw a crate full of dead puppies, dogs come out with the firemen," said neighbor Jelena Novak, according to NBC Chicago.
Nine of the dogs rescued were put on oxygen, while a tenth dog did not survive the fire, which broke out in a house in the 5000 block of West Winona Street around 3:45 p.m. Monday, CBS Chicago reports.
"We've lived here for 20 years, we've called animal control every year...They're not bathed. They live in their own, you know, urine and filth and what-not," Novak said.
A pair of off-duty firefighters responded to to the blaze when one, who according to DNAinfo Chicago was in the area picking up his daughter from a nearby elementary school, spotted smoke.
The off-duty firefighters prevented the homeowner, believed to be in his 50s, from re-entering the house to save his pets, reports the Tribune. Much of the man's clothing was burned, and he was taken in serious-to-critical condition to Loyola University Medical Center, according to Chicago Fire Media.
Chicago Fire Department Chief Pat Brennan said the home was a "total loss," according to DNAinfo. The home next door also suffered damage from the fire.
It wasn't the first time firefighters have responded to the home where the fire started, according to the Sun-Times. Crews had responded at least once prior to extinguish a burn pit in the backyard.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
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