Elderly Woman Dies in Fire after Hydrants Freeze

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An early morning house fire Tuesday in Stony Island Park, Chicago, claimed the life of an elderly woman. Chicago police and firefighters arrived on the scene shortly before 2 a.m. at the 8200-block of South Cornell Avenue. Fire officials tried to extinguish the flames, but soon discovered that nearby fire hydrants were frozen.  

“As I come downstairs to see what’s going on, I look outside, and I could see the firemen cutting open the door,” said neighbor Derrick Goodloe.

“Hoping that my neighbor was safe” was Goodloe’s only thought. 

Unfortunately, the 81-year-old woman, who lived alone according to neighbors, was transported to the University of Chicago Medical Center. She was listed in a critical condition. She later died from her injuries. 

The woman almost made it out of her house. She was found very close to the exit. 

“It brought tears to my eyes, and I know that she was alone. So it’s just sad,” said neighbor Felicia Anderson-Golatte.

There were no working smoke detectors in the home, said the Chicago Fire Department. Attempts to put out the blaze proved in vain as no working hydrants were nearby. They were all frozen. 

“That becomes a bigger challenge for the fire department,” said CFD Deputy District Chief Daniel Torrise. “If you get one hydrant frozen, sometimes you get a second hydrant frozen. So that delays the amount of water that the engine companies would be able to use to fight the fire.”

The frigid temperatures made putting out the blaze difficult. 

“I saw them running hoses everywhere all the trucks…” Goodloe said. “My driveway is iced up right now from the water. But they were able to contain the fire, which is good.”

Neighbor, Larissa Goodloe, was pleased when police went door-to-door handing out free smoke detectors to area residents. 

“People don’t have enough smoke detectors,” she said. “And if you do, get your batteries changed. It’s something you have to do every year. We have quite a few in our home because we have children.”

The official cause of the fire is still under investigation. The fire might have started in the basement, said CFD officials. Smoke detectors could have given the woman more time to escape, argued officials. 



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