She banged her hand on a small window in her closet to signal to firefighters that she was inside the apartment, she said.
One firefighter climbed a ladder and busted out the window to get to the family.
“The window was small where they were trying to come out, so he had to break the window, and then he had to climb through the window to get in there,” battalion Chief Don Cole told Channel 2 from the scene.
Wilcox passed her children to fire crews below, but she needed help to get out. The firefighter gave her his mask for much-needed oxygen and helped her out the front door and down a flight of stairs.
“We just do our job,” Cole said of the firefighter’s actions. “It's what we love to do.”
Wilcox, her children and the firefighter were taken to a hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. All are expected to be OK.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Wilcox said the fire has left her with smoke and water damage throughout her apartment. Her family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the costs of repairs.
In other news:
The shooting happened around 3 p.m. Thursday on Park Avenue in Grant Park in front of horrified neighbors.