12-year-old hero alerts neighbors of fire

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CHICAGO, IL. (CNN) - When a huge fire broke out in a Chicago neighborhood, a 12-year-old boy went door-to-door to tell residents to get out of their houses.

Derrick Blakley reports on the heroic efforts.

A curtain of choking smoke clogged the block as flames ravaged four Canaryville homes. 50 residents, evacuated...but no one injured. Largely thanks to one youngster.

Edwin Perez, Fire hero:  I was screaming, too...I was screaming, people wake up, there's a fire in here...and they all came out.

12-year-old Edwin Perez saw fire in his kitchen as he went to grab his 2-year-old brother some milk. Firefighters believe the fire started on the porch of his home. But Perez woke up everyone in his apartment.

I woke up my cousins and my sister didn't want to wake up so I just grab her, I just grabbed her really hard and said, wake up.

Then, he woke up neighbors in four other houses as well.

James Balcer, Chicago Alderman:  This is an example of a young man who did the right thing. who's a great example to the community and the youth of Chicago.

The blaze broke out around 9:30 am, and displaced residents on cooling buses said it took them by surprise.

(Reporter: How did you notice when the fire started?)

Richard Lukesh, Fire victim:  My daughter went out back and said, dad, the house is on fire. I was like, maybe they're barbecuing, and I went out there and saw my dogs barking, and it was smoke and flame.

But Perez wasn't deterred by smoke or flame...receiving medals today fire commissioner José Santiago. And thanks from those who fought the blaze.

Mark Nielsen, Asst. Deputy Fire Commissioner:  That's an amazing young man. He should be commended and praised.

Firefighters say several homes may be destroyed, including the home of Edwin Perez.

Again, no one was reported injured.