Woman called hero for saving great-grandchildren from fire that took her life

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Annie Lee Cooley

BELLWOOD, Ill. -- An elderly woman is being called a hero after rescuing her great-grandchildren from a fire that took her own life.

Annie Lee Cooley, 87, died in the fire that started around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday at 3321 Wilcox, in west suburban Bellwood..

She was able to lift her great-grandchildren out through a window to someone outside, but was unable to get out of the burning home herself.  Cooley died from smoke inhalation.

Several others in the home at the time managed to make it out and call 9-1-1.

Cooley's great-niece tells WGN that investigators believe the fire was started by a lamp that was accidentally knocked over.

Cooley spent more than 30 years as a nurse at the VA caring for others, and many more years helping to raise several generations of her family.

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